The Cleveland Clinic, a prestigious academic medical center, has denied a life-saving organ transplant surgery to a patient after it was found that the patient’s donor had not received her COVID-19 vaccination.
Michael Ganim is a 52-year-old man who nearly died in March 2020 due to his polycystic kidney disease and has been on Cleveland Clinic’s donor list for a new kidney since October 2020.
Sue George stepped forward after seeing a social media post about Ganim’s plight, and after going through the extensive testing and procedures, was declared a match. Ganim’s life-saving kidney transplant surgery was scheduled for October 13, 2021.
A mere five days before the surgery was set to take place, Ganim and George were informed that the procedure was canceled because while Ganim had received the COVID-19 vaccination, George had not. Despite her kidney being a perfect match for Ganim, she was not allowed to donate her kidney to save Ganim’s life.
“It was never an issue, and not one doctor out of those doctors we’ve met with mentioned that it was an issue except for the pulmonary doctor who just tried to persuade me to get the shot and that was about a month ago,” George said.
This isn’t an isolated incident. There are other instances of doctors and hospitals not providing healthcare based on a patient’s vaccination status.
A Colorado hospital turned away a woman in desperate need of a transplant after she and her donor said they did not want the vaccine and asked for a religious exemption.
In Florida, a South Miami-area family medicine physician said she would not treat patients who haven’t gotten their COVID shot by September 15, following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
Dr. Lina Maraccini wrote a letter to her patients describing a “lack of selflessness” on the part of the unvaccinated and said she would no longer treat unvaccinated patients due to the threat to her employees.
“This is a public health emergency — the health of the public takes priority over the rights of any given individual in this situation,” she wrote.
Dr. Daniel Wilker, who is a professor of ethics and population health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, disagreed with the decision of medical professionals who won’t treat the unvaccinated. He wrote, “Doctors and hospitals are not in the blame and punishment business. Nor should they be. That doctors treat (all) citizens alike is a noble tradition, an ethical feature and not a bug. And we shouldn’t abandon it now.”
Johnathan Moreno, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, agreed with Dr. Wilker, stating, “We have to find ways to take care of people, even if we do not agree with their actions.”
In making these decisions to turn away the unvaccinated at the door, hospitals and other medical professionals seemingly pat themselves on the back for “following the science” and encouraging vaccination to save the lives of more people, but what they are actually doing is causing more suffering and death.
By turning away patients who need life-saving surgeries, treatments, or transplants, they are basically signing their death certificates early. They aren’t doing what they pledged to do when becoming doctors: to treat and attempt to save anyone who comes into their care.
The Cleveland Clinic’s tagline is “Every Life Deserves World Class Care,” and yet, as pointed out in an article at The Federalist, “The Cleveland Clinic appears prepared to condemn some of their patients to death over an experimental vaccine with a short track record.”
The hypocrisy is astounding. In claiming to save the lives of many, they’re willing to sacrifice others. There are already not enough donors in our healthcare system to save the lives of every person on the transplant list. By adding these new stipulations, there will be even less, and more people will die.
If the vaccines do work, why are these medical facilities still requiring social distancing and masks? Why did Dr. Maraccini say the unvaccinated patients were a threat to her vaccinated staff?
Just because someone is unvaccinated doesn’t mean they are perpetually sick or contagious. In the case of the kidney transplant at the Cleveland Clinic, why not test the unvaccinated donor for COVID-19 before she comes to the hospital? If she tests negative, and is therefore not sick, why then can’t she donate her kidney to someone who desperately needs it (which, by the way, is one of the most selfless acts imaginable)? If there is a way to prove the donor isn’t sick or contagious, why in the world would the Cleveland Clinic punish a fully vaccinated transplant recipient with what is likely to be a death sentence?
These guidelines set a dangerous precedent for the healthcare system in this country. If doctors can and will turn someone away for their COVID vaccination status now, how long before they’ll start deciding that they have the right to refuse to treat patients who don’t get other vaccines or who abuse drugs or who eat too much or who are in prison for violent crimes or whose lifestyle or views offend them morally, politically, or religiously?
Doctors don’t pick and choose which patients they treat. They treat the patient in front of them, no matter who they are or what they’ve done in the past. That’s what makes it a calling, rather than a job. For a doctor to run away from a patient in need rather than towards them is to disregard their Hippocratic oath — and their humanity.