Could Organ Transplants in New York Be Cancelled Without COVID-19 Vaccination?
There have recently been reports from various parts of the country where organ transplants have been canceled due to the transplantee or organ donor not being vaccinated against COVID-19. In Ohio, a 52-year-old man had his kidney transplant canceled just days before it was scheduled to take place because the donor was not vaccinated. His surgery was scheduled five days before the cancelation at the Cleveland Clinic. The hospital's new policy was the reason behind the operation being stopped.
The clinic stood by its policy after outrage about the cancelation,
"The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. Cleveland Clinic has recently developed safety protocols for solid organ transplantation that require COVID-19 vaccination to be an active transplant candidate or living donor. Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety.
For organ transplantation using a living donor, which involves the living donor undergoing a scheduled surgery, we are requiring COVID-19 vaccination for both donor and recipient before we can proceed with the surgery, for the safety of both.
The FDA-authorized vaccines have been determined to be safe and effective and are the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19."
Another hospital in Colorado, the University of Colorado Hospital, sent a letter to a woman threatening to deny her transplant if she did not get her COVID-19 vaccination within 30 days.
The American Society of Transplantation states on its website that the risk of catching COVID-19 from organ donation is low,
The risk of acquiring COVID-19 from organ donation is low. The rare cases reported in the literature involve lung transplant recipients. Organ procurement organizations are screening all potential donors for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure history. All potential donors are tested for COVID-19 prior to transplant further decreasing risk of transmission.
Transplant centers have also taken careful steps to screen living donors, including checking for symptoms, exposures, and viral testing. At some centers, living donors are being asked to avoid travel to high-risk areas and to isolate themselves before donation and monitor for symptoms.
New York's highly ranked hospital, New York-Presbyterian, has a "what to expect" article on its website for living donors that doesn't mention anything about requiring a COVID-19 vaccine, as of September 15, 2021.
NYU Langone Hospitals also does not currently mention the requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine on its transplant information page.
Erie County Medical Center does not have anything currently listed about requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for organ transplantation.
Because transplant recipients take immunosuppressive drugs, they have a higher risk of infection from viruses such as cold or flu. To lower the chance of getting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, transplant patients should follow the CDC’s guidance on how to avoid catching or spreading germs, and contact their health care professional if they develop symptoms of COVID-19.
Two major hospitals in Pennsylvania have stated that they are not requiring COVID-19 vaccines for transplant operations, offering some hope to unvaccinated patients and donors in New York and the Country, who have medical or religious reasons for not getting jabbed. Knowing the New York State government's aggressive stance on enacting COVID-19 vaccine mandates, it may just be a matter of time before hospitals around the state with transplant centers require vaccinations. Healthcare workers in New York have already been mandated to get vaccines.