A patient in a Boston hospital has reportedly been taken off the waitlist for a potentially life-saving heart transplant because he refuses to meet the requirements by getting vaccinated.
DJ Ferguson, 31, is in need of a heart transplant, but he's also decided to "stick to his guns" and is refusing a COVID-19 vaccine, his father, David Ferguson, told CBS Boston.
On a GoFundMe page, the patient's friends and family say that he is eligible to be at the front of the line for a transplant but that the hospital won't put him on the list because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
"His heart has now deteriorated so much to the point where it won't work on its own," David Ferguson said. "It's kind of against his basic principles. He doesn't really believe in it."
He added that DJ is a father of two with another child on the way.
The hospital said in a statement that it wants to maximize the chances of success with its transplants, and that's why recipients must be vaccinated. However, it refused to comment specifically on any one patient.
"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," the hospital told CBS Boston.
Users on Twitter weighed in, with some suggesting that strict requirements for receiving high-risk surgeries and transplants are common and not unique to COVID-19 vaccination.
Once again, NOT NEW. \n\u201cHeart transplant refused for man who won\u2019t get colonoscopy.\u201d\n\u201cHeart transplant refused for man who wouldn\u2019t take his meds.\u201d\n\u201cHeart transplant refused for man who wouldn\u2019t get tetanus vaccine.\u201d\nYou must follow all medical advise to get a transplant.https://twitter.com/morgfair/status/1485995729265037313\u00a0\u2026— Callie Thompson (@Callie Thompson) 1643125327
Others commented on the trust from patient to doctor and how those boundaries vary with patients and the procedures they're willing to get.
I\u2019m confused about the 31 year old father who won\u2019t get a heart transplant because he refused to be vaccinated. He\u2019ll trust doctors to do a heart transplant but not about the Covid vaccination?— Dr. Ginny McDonald (@Dr. Ginny McDonald) 1643220217
In a January 25 update on the GoFundMe page, the organizer shared a message from DJ's wife, Heather, who explained that part of the reason DJ didn't want to get vaccinated now was due to the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with COVID-19 vaccination.
"In DJs case he can NOT afford for his heart to swell any more than it already is right now," she wrote. "He is at extremely high risk of sudden death if it does."
David Ferguson told CBS News that the family is considering transferring him to another hospital, and they fully support his decision to refuse the vaccine.
The CDC has a robust website with all the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines and can answer any questions you may have.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.