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Health system defends requiring COVID-19 vaccine for organ transplants

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Health system defends requiring COVID-19 vaccine for organ transplants
Transplant patients were required to get vaccinations and take other measures even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Colorado healthy system said. File Photo by Gary I. Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A Colorado health system is defending its decision to require coronavirus vaccinations for people receiving organ transplants after a Republican state senator complained about a patient being denied.

University of Colorado Health spokesman Dan Weaver told the Denver Post that placing conditions for transplant patients before, during and after surgery is commonplace and well predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Colorado state Rep. Tim Geitner complained on Twitter about a letter he received about a local patient being denied surgery. The patient told Geiter they were placed as "inactive" on the transplant waiting list because they had not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

"UCHealth denies life-saving treatment -- kidney transplant -- to [an] El Paso County resident," Geitner tweeted.

"Patients may be required to receive vaccinations, including hepatitis B, MMR and others," Weaver told the Post. "Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery.

"These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful, and the patient will avoid rejection."

Weaver said non-vaccinated transplant patients have a higher mortality rate -- from 20% and 30%, compared to under 2% among the general population for those who've tested positive for the virus.

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