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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says anyone denied organ transplant due to COVID vaccine status will get care in his state

COVID-19, vaccine shot
A health worker delivers a vaccine shot into an arm in this undated file photo. |

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has announced the state will not require people in need of life-saving organ transplants to get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive treatment.

Abbott’s office told Fox News in a statement that, regarding people seeking necessary organ transplants, “vaccines remain voluntary and never forced.”

“Anyone being denied critical, life-saving organ transplants is welcome here in Texas, where one’s rights and freedoms are always protected,” Abbott’s office said.

Wesley J. Smith of the conservative publication The National Review commended Texas for their decision while denouncing denials of organ transplants on the basis of vaccination status.

“So, which state really cares about the well-being of these very ill patients? Clearly, Texas. But don’t expect the usual media suspects and critics to give the state credit,” wrote Smith.

“That would interfere with the false narrative that rejecting mandates is akin to killing people, even though Colorado’s transplant refusals more aptly fit that description.”

Smith was alluding to the highly publicized decision by UCHealth to prohibit organ transplants for patients who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

UCHealth spokesperson Kelly Tracer told USA Today that, "in almost all situations, transplant recipients and living donors" in their system "are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements."

Organ transplant patients must undergo a host of requirements before being allowed to receive a new organ, according to Tracer, in order to better guarantee a successful transplant.

“Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery,” Tracer also told USA Today.

“These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful and the patient will avoid rejection.”

According to a review article published in January by Yorg Azzi et al., individuals seeking organ transplantation procedures “may be at high risk from COVID-19 disease due to chronic immunosuppressive treatment and other medical comorbidities.”

“In addition to high rates of complications and mortality attributable to COVID-19 infections, the pandemic has also led to additional complexities in transplantation,” read the review article abstract.

“Transplant activity during a pandemic should be tailored with careful selection of both donors and recipients.”

In recent weeks, several reports have emerged out of Colorado where hospitals have denied unvaccinated patients organ transplants.

Colorado’s UCHealth recently told Dawn McLaughlin, a woman with polycystic kidney disease, she was removed from the waitlist to receive a transplant because she hadn’t gotten the COVID vaccine, CBS4 reported.

Also in October, Colorado woman, Leilani Lutali, was told her hospital won't approve her kidney transplant surgery to remedy her stage 5 kidney disease until she's gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a report from The Associated Press.

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