When a Colorado woman learned that her hospital would not approve her kidney transplant operation until she was vaccinated against COVID-19, she was faced with a difficult decision that confronted her health problems with her religious beliefs.

Leilani Lutali, a Christian convert, decided to act on her faith.

Although she suffers from stage 5 kidney disease that puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney, Lutali, 56, said she could not accept being immunized against COVID-19 because of the role stem cells have played in development. of vaccines.

“As a Christian, I cannot support anything that has to do with the abortion of babies, and to me the sanctity of life is inestimable,” she said.

Transplant recipients should be vaccinated because they are at considerable risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as being hospitalized and dying from the virus, said Dan Weaver, a spokesman for the Colorado-based UCHealth health care system.

Unvaccinated donors could also transmit COVID-19 to the recipient even if they initially test negative for the disease, he said.

“Studies have revealed that transplant patients who contract COVID-19 could have a mortality rate of 20% or higher,” he added.

It is not clear how common this type of policy is.

The American Hospital Association (AHA), which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and networks in the United States, said it had no data to share on the subject. But he noted that many transplant programs insist that patients get vaccinated against COVID-19 due to the weakened state of their immune systems.

Although any type of surgery can put stress on a patient’s immune system and leave them vulnerable to later contracting COVID-19, organ transplant recipients are even more at risk because they have to take a powerful drug regimen to suppress the immune system. and thus prevent your body from rejecting the new organ, which it sees as a foreign object, Nancy Foster, AHA vice president for quality and patient safety policy, said in a statement.

“Also, if patients wait to receive the vaccine until after the operation, it is unlikely that their immune system will be able to generate the desired antibody reaction, since they are taking anti-rejection drugs,” he said.

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