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Air Force Vet who had COVID twice denied vital kidney transplant in NC over not getting vaccine, he says

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Denied Kidney Transplant


An Air Force Veteran from North Carolina needing a kidney transplant to help stay alive told news outlets he was denied the vital procedure because he hasn’t received a COVID-19 vaccine, though he’s already had COVID-19 twice.

Now — unsure how long he has to live — Chad Carswell is still refusing to get the shot, WSOC reported last week.

“I was born free,” Carswell told the TV station. “I will die free. I’m not changing my mind.”

He said he has also gotten COVID-19 two times and told news outlets nothing will convince him to get vaccinated against the disease.

During the coronavirus pandemic, health experts have urged all eligible people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent those who contract the virus from getting seriously sick.

Carswell told news outlets he won’t get the vaccine, causing him to be refused a transplant. Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, the Winston-Salem hospital where he wanted to have the procedure, said it requires its transplant patients to be vaccinated.

The hospital said those who don’t want to get a shot can seek medical care elsewhere.

“Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s policy follows the current standard of care in the United States, which is to vaccinate all patients on waiting lists or being evaluated for transplant,” the provider told McClatchy News in an emailed statement. “The reason it is recommended is to provide protection for the patient. Transplant patients are at high risk for severe illness if they don’t have pre-existing immunity prior to being transplanted.”

Carswell isn’t the only person who has been denied a transplant for not having a COVID-19 vaccine.

In South Carolina, a man was taken off a kidney transplant list, WYFF reported. And in Massachusetts, a dad told WBZ his unvaccinated son was denied a heart transplant.

In both cases, the hospitals told news outlets those eligible for transplants must meet health requirements, including being vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Post any transplant, kidney, heart whatever, your immune system is shut off,” Arthur Caplan, head of the medical ethics division at the New York University Grossman School of Medicine, told WBZ. “The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. 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.”

In North Carolina, Carswell is facing serious consequences if he goes without an organ transplant. The 38-year-old said he has been on dialysis after he developed severe kidney disease four years ago. Now, his “kidneys are functioning at just 4 percent,” The Washington Post reported.

Carswell is a U.S. Air Force Veteran from the Hickory area, roughly 55 miles northwest of Charlotte. He told the Hickory Daily Record he has several health problems, including diabetes, which led him to lose his two legs.

“There is not a situation in this world that I’ll get a vaccine,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “If I’m laying on my deathbed, and they tell me, ‘You have a kidney waiting on you if you get this shot,’ I’ll tell them, ‘I’ll see you on the other side.'”

Carswell didn’t respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Jan. 31.


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