A Colorado woman suffering stage 5 renal failure is running out of time and options, after a health system in the state denied her a kidney transplant due to her and her donor’s unvaccinated status.
Leilani Lutali received a letter from Colorado health system UCHealth at the end of September explaining that she and her donor have 30 days to begin the vaccine process or they’d be removed from the transplant list.
“Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list,” Jaimee Fougner, Lutali’s donor, said, per Fox News. “How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I’ve got a perfectly good kidney and can save her life?”
“I said I’ll sign a medical waiver. I have to sign a waiver anyway for the transplant itself, releasing them from anything that could possibly go wrong,” Lutali said. “It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I’m not sure why I can’t sign a waiver for the COVID shot.”
Lutali said that in August, the hospital told her the vaccine would not be a prerequisite to get the transplant.
“At the end of August, they confirmed that there was no COVID shot needed at that time,” she said. “Fast forward to Sept. 28. That’s when I found out. Jamie learned they have this policy around the COVID shot for both the donor and the recipient.”
Lutali and Fougner, who met each other 10 months ago at a Bible study, both have their reasons for not receiving the vaccine: Fougner has religious reasons, and Lutali is concerned about the unknowns.
“It’s your choice on what treatment you have,” Fougner said. “In Leilani’s case, the voice has been taken from her. Her life has now been held hostage because of this mandate.”
Lutali and Fougner are now looking at hospitals outside of Colorado that are willing to perform the transplant without vaccinations.