A woman in Colorado has been refused a kidney transplant because she has not had a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a document shared online.
Leilani Lutali shared with US media a letter she received from the UCHealth Transplant Center near Denver, which stated she would be removed from the transplant list unless she begins the vaccine process within 30 days.
The letter, which was also shared on Twitter by state representative Tim Geitner, said the patient would be placed as “inactive” on the transplant waiting list for “non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine”.
The letter read: “The transplant team at University of Colorado Hospital has determined that it is necessary to place you inactive on the waiting list.
“You will be inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine. You will have 30 days to begin the vaccination series.
“If your decision is to refuse COVID vaccination you will be removed from the kidney transplant list.
“You will continue to accrue waiting time but you will not receive a kidney offer while listed inactive.”
Speaking to CBS News, Ms Lutali, who has stage five renal failure, said she has not taken the vaccine because there are too many unknowns.
She said she only found out that the hospital was now requiring both herself and the donor to be vaccinated on 28 September.
“It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I’m not sure why I can’t sign a waiver for the COVID shot,” she said.
Her donor Jaimee Fougner, who received the same letter from UCHealth, told the broadcaster she has not received the vaccine for religious reasons.
Ms Fougner said: “It’s your choice on what treatment you have. In Leilani’s case, the choice has been taken from her. Her life has now been held hostage because of this mandate.”
The women have said they are now looking for another hospital to perform the transplant but have yet to find one.
UCHealth told Sky News in a statement that its priority is to “provide excellent, safe care for transplant patients before, during and after a transplant surgery”.
“An organ transplant is a unique surgery that leads to a lifetime of specialised management to ensure an organ is not rejected, which can lead to serious complications, the need for a subsequent transplant surgery, or even death.”
“Physicians must consider the short- and long-term health risks for patients as they consider whether to recommend an organ transplant,” it added.
“In almost all situations, transplant recipients and living donors at UCHealth are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements and receiving additional vaccinations.”