DJ Ferguson needs a heart transplant. But since he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, he has been removed from the transplant list at a Boston hospital.
Ferguson, 31, is at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His family said he was at the front of the line for a transplant until he was declared ineligible for being unvaccinated, WBZ-TV reported.
The hospital released a statement explaining its vaccine requirement for transplant patients.
“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 statement read.
Dr. Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, weighed in on the issue, saying vaccines should be necessary for transplant patients.
“Post any transplant — kidney, heart, whatever — your immune system is shut off. The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you,” Caplan said. “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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also recommended that immunocompromised people, including organ transplant patients, should be vaccinated since they are vulnerable to COVID-19, the New York Post reported.
However, Ferguson’s father, David Ferguson, said getting the COVID-19 vaccine is against his son’s principles and he “doesn’t believe in it.”
David and his family are now speaking out on DJ’s behalf.
“My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,” David said.
It is unknown why DJ needs a heart transplant, according to Fox News.
But his family has made it clear that he does not have much time without a transplant.
“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,” David said. “It’s his body. It’s his choice.”
DJ is the father of two children and has another baby on the way.
With his removal from Brigham’s transplant list, his family said they are considering moving him to another hospital. But this could be dangerous because of DJ’s weak condition.
“We are aggressively pursuing all options,” David said, “but we are running out of time.”