The University of Alberta Hospital is threatening to remove a terminally ill patient from the donor list for a lung transplant if she refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a legal organization representing the patient says.
Annette Lewis, a 56-year-old woman who is terminally ill with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in both of her lungs, has been waiting for a transplant for over a year. Without the transplant Lewis won’t survive, as her lung capacity had dropped to only 40 percent two months ago, according to Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), a non-partisan legal organization representing Lewis.
In a letter dated Aug. 9, the University of Alberta Hospital, located in Edmonton, informed Lewis that she cannot receive the lung transplant without getting the COVID-19 shot, according to JCCF. In a subsequent telephone conversation with a member of the hospital’s Lung Transplant Program team on Sept. 2, Lewis was told that she is “number two” on the donor recipient list, and was again informed that she must be vaccinated in order to get the transplant, the JCCF added.
In a recording of the phone conversation given to the JCCF, she was told by a doctor with the lung transplantation program that “all of our pre-transplant patients are going to be required to have the COVID vaccine,” and that she would be taken off the donor list if she refuses to be vaccinated.
“If I don’t get the vaccine, I’m not going to get the transplant, and we all know what the end result of that is for me,” Lewis said, explaining that she’s worried the vaccine would adversely affect her lungs, according to the JCCF.
Lewis told the doctor that she is concerned about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines, which are not fully approved by Health Canada but are authorized under an “interim order,” JCCF said. Clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, including the ones created by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are ongoing.
According to the JCCF, Lewis has complied with the lung transplantation program team’s request to again receive vaccinations for diseases that she’d already been vaccinated against in her childhood, but she is reluctant to take the still-experimental COVID-19 vaccines.
In the United States, COVID-19 vaccinations have resulted in over 7,200 deaths between December 2020 and June 2021, according to the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System.
Health Canada has updated the labelling on certain COVID-19 vaccines several times to warn of possible adverse effects, including blood clotting, myocarditis, pericarditis, and Bell’s Palsy.
On Sept. 2, the JCCF wrote a legal demand letter to Dr. Rhea Varughese, a respirologist on the lung transplantation team and an assistant professor at the University‘s Department of Medicine, asking that Lewis be exempt from the requirement for a COVID-19 vaccine and that she remain on the double-lung transplant donor list.
“Your team’s conduct in giving Ms. Lewis an ultimatum of this nature is coercive and unethical. Threatening a patient’s access to life-saving medical treatment if she does not accede to your demand that she participates in an experimental treatment that is known to potentially cause serious side effects, including permanent disability and death, is disturbing,” Allison Kindle Pejovic, a staff lawyer at the JCCF, stated in the letter.
“If Ms. Lewis is removed from the transplant list she will die. This is a gross violation of her freedom of choice. Having to choose between taking an experimental vaccine that she does not want, or certain death, is not a choice.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the University of Alberta Hospital and was told to contact Alberta Health Services (AHS) for comment. AHS didn’t respond by time of publication.