Playing God

Who lives and who dies is a judgment many hospitals make every day. Unsplash photo

The FilAm Editorial

We would very much prefer that in principle, a hospital or a doctor should not play God. But there is this man from Boston, whose resistance to vaccination left the hospital with no choice.

Reports ABC News: “DJ Ferguson, who was diagnosed with arrhythmia four years ago, was admitted to Brigham and Women’s Hospital after suffering heart failure this winter, his parents told ABC News. But after reviewing Ferguson’s medical history, which showed he had not received a coronavirus shot, hospital staff told Ferguson that his vaccination status made him ineligible for a new heart, according to his parents.

“National transplant associations recommend the COVID-19 vaccines before transplants, as do many medical centers, because after a transplant, the patient’s immune system can become compromised from medications necessary to keep the organ and the patient alive, making the individual at risk for severe illness and death if they become infected with COVID-19.”

Ferguson, a father of two, was at the front of the line for a heart transplant. A donor has been identified and an organ was readily available. At the last minute, he was denied a functioning heart because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine is the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation, declared the hospital in defense of its decision.

We do not know what the hospital did after stating that, but we are assuming the man’s slot has been awarded to another transplant patient who is considered fully vaccinated. Ferguson’s family is standing by their son who “doesn’t believe” in vaccines. “It’s kind of against his basic principles.”

It’s a principle articulated by the family calmly and without resorting to histrionics like comparing the vaccine mandate to the Holocaust in Anne Frank’s time. It is also, from our reading of the news reports, a decision the family is coming to terms with, blaming no one – not the hospital who took “great care” of DJ nor their “principled” son.

It is a decision where the hospital is forced to choose who lives and who dies. It may seem heartless to some, but the rationing of scarce body organs is a predicament medical facilities across the country find themselves in, a situation complicated by the pandemic. In this case it is hard to see how the hospital can decide otherwise.

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(C) The FilAm 2022

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