Soon-to-Be Father of 3 Denied Heart Transplant Because He’s Not Vaccinated for COVID-19: ‘It’s His Body. It’s His Choice’

A father is speaking out after his 31-year-old was denied a heart transplant. In an interview, David Ferguson said he’s not sure how much more his son can take as he continues to fight for his life.

“My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,” Ferguson said. Currently, DJ Ferguson is a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts.

Soon-to-Be Father of 3 Denied Heart Transplant Because He’s Not Vaccinated for COVID-19: ‘It’s His Body. It’s His Choice’

According to DJ’s family, he was at the top of the list to receive a new heart when they learned he was no longer eligible. As ABC 6 reports, the hospital deemed him no longer eligible to receive the transplant because he did not receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

While the specific reasons behind DJ’s decision to not receive the vaccine are unclear, David said it’s not something his son wanted, and he remains steadfast in his decision. “It’s kind of against his basic principles, he doesn’t believe in it,” DJ’s father admitted. “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.”

According to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, these types of requirements are par-for-the-course in many transplant programs. The hospital released a statement that the COVID-19 vaccine is one of those “lifestyle behavior” requirements.

heart transplant denied

“And 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.”

While explaining the reason behind the requirements, Dr. Arthur Caplan, Head of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, said being vaccinated prior to a transplant is necessary. “Post any transplant, kidney, heart whatever your immune system is shut off,” Caplan explained.

That means, anything from the flu to a cold to COVID, could kill the transplant patient. “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.”

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Soon-to-Be Father of 3 Denied Heart Transplant Because He's Not Vaccinated for COVID-19: 'It’s His Body. It’s His Choice'

Now, DJ’s family is looking at all their options, which include moving him to another hospital that may perform the transplant knowing he doesn’t have the COVID vaccine. The issue is that DJ may be too weak to be moved elsewhere.

“We are aggressively pursuing all options, but we are running out of time,” David said, while also praising his son for standing firm in his beliefs. “I think my boy is fighting pretty damn courageously and he has integrity and principles he really believes in and that makes me respect him all the more. […] It’s his body. It’s his choice.”

DJ is a father of two, with his third child on the way. 

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