Leilani Lutali is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. She's in stage 5 chronic kidney disease and the organ is functioning at a mere 14 percent. She's even got a compatible donor lined up but University of Colorado Health is refusing to do the surgery because neither Lutali nor her donor have had the jab.
Speaking to Fox21 in Colorado Springs, Lutali said she feels like she is being coerced.
“It feels a little bit like the transplant is being held hostage and there's only one decision that I'm being left with,” she said. “And there are other options that we could do but there's just been a hard line drawn.”
Lutali met her donor at a Bible study and they are both resisting the vaccine because of their religious convictions.
Lutali is also worried that the vaccine won't be effective because of the immunosuppressant drugs she'll need to take after the transplant.
UC Health, which fired 119 holdout employees in early October, operates 12 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in the Rocky Mountain region, according to The Associated press.
The non-profit hospital system also approved 1,170 medical and religious exemptions, which accounted for about 4% of its workforce of 26,500 employees, the AP reported.
Crank: 'I am anti-tyranny'
Jeff Crank, a longtime Colorado Springs talk show host, tells American Family News that doctors in the health care system are violating the Hippocratic Oath by refusing the surgery. Their job, he says, is to save lives.
“I, frankly, would hope that there would just be a facility somewhere who would step up and say, We will do the transplant. Come to our facility and do it," he says. “Even if that's in another state.”
Crank, a fixture at KVOR for more than 13 years, can sympathize with Lutal’s stance: He is stepping down from that full-time job after refusing the jab from Cumulus Media, which owns the radio station. He told his employer he made a personal medical decision after consulting with his own doctor.
“While I am not anti-vaccination, I am anti-tyranny and I told them that I find their policy unethical and immoral,” Crank wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve already had coronavirus. I discussed the vaccine with my doctor and he recommended that I not take the vaccine at this time as there was very little risk to me contracting COVID and even less risk of having severe complications from COVID.”
Dr. Jeff Barrows of the Christian Medical Association tells American Family News it is a complicated issue but UC Health, he insists, does have some legitimate concerns.
“Those are very complex surgeries and it requires an entire team,” he says. “And so I can understand from a stewardship point of view that the hospital is wanting to be careful.”
In a statement to media, UC Health said it implemented the policy for the safety and health of its patients. "For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20% to more than 30%," the statement reads. "This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries."