Abbott first shared the information in a statement to The Washington Examiner.
“Democrats have gone too far with their vaccine mandates,” Abbott’s office said in the statement.
“First, they were endangering people’s livelihoods. Now, they’re endangering people’s lives. Here in Texas, vaccines remain voluntary and never forced. Anyone being denied critical, life-saving organ transplants is welcome here in Texas, where one’s rights and freedoms are always protected,” the statement added.
The issue arose on Oct. 5 when Colorado State Rep. Tim Geitner, a Republican, posted a letter on Twitter regarding UCHealth denying a kidney transplant because the patient was not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
UCHealth denies life saving treatment – kidney transplant – to El Paso County resident. See my FB live post @timgeitnercolorado pic.twitter.com/Z2r8D2VY4m
— Tim Geitner (@tgeitner) October 5, 2021
The Colorado patient, Dawn McLaughlin, had been advised by her doctor not to be vaccinated. She claimed to be following the advice of her doctor, according to a CBS 4 report.
UCHealth switchedMcLaughlin’s status to the inactive list for a transplant as a result.
McLaughlin has since been connected with UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. The hospital has offered to assist McLaughlin, only requiring a rapid COVID-19 test.
UCHealth released a formal statement on Twitter on Oct. 6 in response to the matter.
“There have recently been many questions about UCHealth’s requirements for patients who need an organ transplant. Here is some information about our decision. Physicians must consider the short- and long-term health risks for patients as they consider whether to recommend an organ transplant,” the health system wrote.
“Transplant centers across the nation, including the UCHealth Transplant Center, have specific requirements in place to protect patients both during and after surgery. Patients and living donors may be required to receive vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and others and to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery.
“Several weeks ago, COVID-19 vaccination was added to this list because of the significant risk the virus poses to transplant recipients. Various studies show that between 20% and 30% of unvaccinated transplant recipients who contract COVID-19 have died, and these requirements are in place to ensure patients have the best chances of recovery and good outcomes,” it added.
Abbott has been a strong advocate against vaccine mandates. Earlier in October, the governor issued an executive order against any entity in the state from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said.