A Colorado woman with stage 5 renal failure is scrambling to find a new hospital to perform a kidney transplant after she was denied the transplant because she and her donor are not vaccinated against coronavirus.
Leilani Lutali and her kidney donor, Jaimee Fougner, sat down with “Fox & Friends First” Thursday to tell their story.
In August, Leilani was told that her having a vaccine was not a prerequisite to receiving her transplant.
“I had a myriad of emotions, from to confusion to dismay, having been told a month before that I wouldn’t be required to take that shot and then fast-forward a month later now I told something different, then I was a month earlier. It left me with a feeling of now what?” Lutali told host Todd Piro.
Lutali said she received a letter from UCHealth at the end of September explaining that she and Fougner have 30 days to begin the vaccine process. and would be removed from the kidney transplant list if they refuse the shots.
Fougner described the hospital as taking her friend’s life hostage with the mandate.
“I have no idea why they would do this. I’m in the medical field and our first job is to be compassionate to our patients and to involve them in their care, and choices they have for their health care. I feel like that choice has been taken from Leilani and she has been given a death sentence from the hospital” Fougner said.
“For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20% to more than 30%. This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries,” the health system told CBS4.
The health system also noted that patients have been required to receive other vaccines, such as for hepatitis B, to help ensure a transplant won’t be rejected.
Lutali and Fougner are now hoping that a hospital in another state will perform the transplant.
“Our trust is in our Lord Jesus Christ, we know he can do all things so our hope is in him and if there is a hospital that can do the surgery they will get in touch with us,” said Fougner.
Lutali met Fougner 10 months ago at a Bible study. Lutali said she has not received the vaccine because there are too many unknowns yet, while Fougner has not gotten the shot over religious reasons.
Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.