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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Hospital refuses heart transplant to man who won’t get COVID-19 vaccine

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Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. Photo courtesy of Brigham and Women’s Media Kit.

DJ Ferguson, a 31-year-old man who is being treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is being refused a heart transplant because he will not receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Because his heart was failing, Ferguson was originally put on the eligibility list, however, Ferguson’s vaccination status caused the hospital to remove him from the list during the week of Jan. 24. 
According to the American Transplant Foundation, over 100,000 Americans are on an organ transplant list.
“Like many other transplant programs in the United States—the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation,” commented Brigham and Women’s Hospital in a statement. 
Additionally, The New York Post stated that “Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is a Harvard teaching facility, said research had shown transplant recipients were at a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to non-transplant patients.” 
CBS News spoke to Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, about why an unvaccinated transplant patient has a lower risk of survival than a vaccinated one. 
​​”Post any transplant, kidney, heart, whatever, your immune system is shut off,” said Dr. Caplan. “The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID-19 could kill you. The organs are scarce, we are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving.” 
Ferguson has two children, with a third currently on the way. His family has spoken out about Brigham and Women’s policy.
“It’s [the COVID-19 vaccine] kind of against his basic principles,” said DJ’s father, David Ferguson. “He doesn’t believe in it. It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant.” 
“DJ is an informed patient,” said Tracey Ferguson, DJ’s mother. “He wants to be assured by his doctors that his condition would not be worse or fatal with this COVID-19 vaccine.” 
According to Tracey, DJ has received other vaccinations in the past, and is not against immunizations. However, DJ has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, or, according to heart.org, “a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.” 
Tracey stated that DJ is concerned about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on this condition. Health officials have acknowledged that in rare cases, heart inflammation has been associated with the vaccination. 
A GoFundMe page has been organized for DJ’s family. In the fundraiser description, the organizer states that DJ and his wife, Heather, have not been able to work since November of 2021, when DJ was first hospitalized. 
On Jan. 25, 2022, the organizer of the campaign posted an update, presumably written by Heather, to the page that contained a briefing of DJ’s current situation. A portion of the update reads: “we are literally in a corner right now. This is extremely time sensitive. We’re being pressured to choose a shot that could kill him. This is not just a political issue. People need to have a choice! People need to realize that there ARE others out there that are at high risk while receiving this shot, and it COULD kill them.”
At the time of writing, the fundraiser has raised $92,355 for the family. In order to donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/dj-heathers-relief-fund