A woman in Colorado by the name of Leilani Lutali was denied a kidney transplant by the UCHealth non-profit healthcare system because she and her kidney donor are not vaccinated. Lutali has stage five renal failure and was months away from getting a new kidney when she and her donor, who were both unvaccinated, were refused the procedure under the hospital system's new vaccine policy.
According to CBS 4, Lutali met her donor, Jaimee Fougner through Bible study 10 months ago. Fougner argued, "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."
Fougner claims religious reasons for refusing the COVID vaccine, while Lutali hasn't gotten inoculated yet because she said that there were just too many unknowns at this point. It was only last week when Lutali and Fougner were informed that they cannot push through with the kidney transplant due to their vaccination status.
Lutali received a letter from UCHealth that it was "necessary" to place her as "inactive on the waiting list" and that she would be "inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine." UCHealth also gave her "30 days to begin the vaccination series." The letter also informed her that if she decides to "refuse COVID vaccination," she would be "removed from the kidney transplant list.
Lutali argued that she would "sign a medical waiver...releasing them from anything that could possibly go wrong." She added, "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."
Additionally, Lutali previous had COVID and now has natural immunity from her past infection.
UCHealth released a statement that explained how transplant patients who get infected with COVID have a mortality rate of 20% to 30%, which they said "shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries."
Fougner lamented the Colorado nonprofit hospital's vaccine requirement, which prohibited her from saving her friend's life despite "willing to be a direct donor to her." Both women have been forced to look to hospitals in other states as they have not found one in Colorado that would do the kidney transplant due to their vaccination status.
Republican state Rep. of El Paso County in Colorado Tim Geitner took to a Facebook live video to speak out on the Colorado nonprofit hospital's refusal to perform a kidney transplant on Lutali, Breitbart reported. Geitner argued, "The understanding is basically, conform to this demand. Take this COVID vaccine, or otherwise, you will be denied a life-saving procedure, and best of luck."
Rep. Geitner added, "I've had the opportunity to talk with UCHealth directly, by phone, by email, and they refuse to make exceptions or accommodations to their policy."
NPR reported that on any given day, there are about 75,000 individuals on the active waiting list for organs, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But there are only 8,000 deceased organ donors and 6,000 organs from living donors. Both the American Liver Foundation and the National Kidney Foundation have called for greater access to COVID vaccines for organ recipients due to their immunocompromised health status.