Republicans pretend organ transplant rules are a new penalty for the unvaccinated

541

Republican lawmakers want to override long-standing hospital policies to advantage vaccine refusers.

House Republicans are pushing legislation to override long-standing guidelines regulating organ transplants, in an effort to provide special treatment for those who refuse to get COVID-19 vaccinations. They are falsely claiming the ethics rules are "heartless" and "blatantly unethical."

On Tuesday, Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) introduced the Stop Arduous Vaccine Enforcement (SAVE) Act "to prohibit transplant centers from discriminating against an individual seeking an organ on the basis of whether the individual is vaccinated against COVID-19."

"It is unimaginable that organ transplant centers would deny American citizens life-saving medical procedures solely for being unvaccinated against COVID-19," Cline told Fox News. "The SAVE Act ensures that no one is denied an organ transplant or donation based on their vaccination status."

The bill's six original co-sponsors are Republican Reps. Rodney Davis (IL), Jeff Duncan (SC), Bob Good (VA), Morgan Griffith (VA), Chip Roy (TX), and Rob Wittman (VA).

Duncan tweeted a news story on Tuesday about a South Carolina hospital removing a man named Jason Wilson from a kidney transplant wait list after he refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"MUSC's decision to remove someone from a transplant list because he chose not to receive the COVID shot is inhumane, evil, and blatantly unethical. This is why I will not stop fighting for medical freedom and for the rights of people like Jason," Duncan vowed.

"A young father with a heart condition is being denied a heart transplant because of not having taken a shot that is known to cause heart swelling — stop and think about that. #HealthFreedom," wrote Roy on Jan. 27, linking to a fundraising page for an unvaccinated patient in Massachusetts.

While COVID-19 vaccines have occasionally caused heart muscle inflammation, medical experts say the condition is more common and severe among people who get bad cases of COVID-19.

Other GOP lawmakers have also railed against hospitals prioritizing organ transplants for people who are vaccinated.

"While I encourage people to get vaccinated, the idea of taking people off the list for organ transplants because of their vaccine status is completely heartless," said South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace. "People need to stop playing God."

But doctors and hospitals make such decisions every day, determining which patients are most likely to derive the most benefit from a very limited supply of human organs.

The medical website Stat reported in January that both physicians and medical ethicists have long favored deciding who gets transplants in part based on who is most likely to survive and thrive. Unvaccinated transplant recipients are at an especially high risk of dying if they get COVID-19.

"The entire transplant evaluation process, which can be very long and very demanding, is about making sure patients are in the best physical, mental, and social condition to endure a transplant, and then all the downstream effects of transplantation," transplant specialist Olivia Kates of Johns Hopkins Medicine told the outlet.

The report also noted that such requirements are common for potential transplant recipients, who are often prohibited from smoking cigarettes and required to be inoculated against hepatitis B and other illnesses in order to be eligible for consideration.

In an essay published by NBC News on Jan. 31, medical ethics experts

"The likelihood of transplant success is based, in part, on transplant candidates' susceptibility to infections — an important cause of death after heart transplants. ... Accordingly, in picking who gets a heart, hospitals have made vaccination one of a variety of considerations. That is not bias against the unvaccinated. It is trying to save the most lives with a scarce organ supply," they write.

In his statement on Tuesday, Cline wrote, "Getting vaccinated is a personal choice and should not be mandated."

Noting this frequent argument, observe, "Choices have consequences, sometimes very tragic consequences."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.