Anti-Vax Dad 'Has Gone to the Edge of Death to Stick to His Guns'

DJ Ferguson won't get COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for heart transplant
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2022 9:55 AM CST
Hospital: No Heart Transplant for Anti-Vax Dad
A man lies in a hospital bed in this stock photo.   (Getty Images/gorodenkoff)

(Newser) – A 31-year-old father of two with a third child on the way is in need of a heart transplant, but he won't get it because he refuses to be vaccinated against COVID-19, his father tells CBS Boston. David Ferguson tells the outlet that his son, DJ Ferguson, "has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he's been pushed to the limit." He says DJ is fighting for his life at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, but hospital officials are refusing to perform a necessary heart transplant owing to a policy stipulating that only vaccinated people are eligible. "It's a policy they are enforcing and so, because he won't get the shot, they took him off the list [for] a heart transplant."

"It's kind of against his basic principles—he doesn't believe in it," adds DJ's father, who says he respects his son's decision. "It's his body. It's his choice." In a statement, the hospital says "the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system," as with "many other transplant programs in the United States," so as to "create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient's survival after transplantation." The New York Post cites similar cases, including that of a Colorado woman denied a kidney transplant because she and her donor were unvaccinated.

After any transplant, "your immune system is shut off" and "the flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you," explains Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, per CBS. As transplant organs are hard to come by, "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." David Ferguson says the family is "aggressively pursuing all options, but we are running out of time." He adds his son may already be too weak to be moved to another hospital. CBS hasn't indicated why the transplant is needed. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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