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Transplant patients put on hold if they refuse COVID vaccine

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 7:41 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Transplant centers around the country are now requiring recipients to be vaccinated against COVID 19 as a condition of being on the transplant waiting list.

UTMC is among them. Doctor Obi Ekwenna is a kidney transplant surgeon and says the risk of dying from COVID if you’ve had a transplant is one in 3 or 33% higher than the general population.

And if you receive an organ transplant, you have a responsibility to protect yourself when you can. “Someone had to die for it. It’s a special gift, it’s a gift of life.”

And Dr. Edwenna says it’s no different than the other rigorous requirements to qualify. “Just like we require MMR for measles for hepatitis b and certain other infectious processes.” Because to protect the body from rejecting the new organ, patients take strong immune-suppressive drugs, “When we decrease the immune system of the recipient, we are leaving them susceptible to infectious processes.”

Nadine Kalpakidis runs recovery services for Life Connection of Ohio and says most all transplant centers will at least temporarily disqualify patients for transplants if they refuse to get vaccinated. “Temporarily pausing their eligibility status or strongly encouraging them to get the vaccine to remain eligible for transplant.”

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