UW Medicine to deny organ transplants to unvaccinated patients

If you have not been vaccinated against COVID-19, you may have a hard time getting a transplant in western Washington.

Colorado hospitals made the decision to deny transplants to most unvaccinated patients, and University of Washington Medical Center is following suit.

UW Medicine requires transplant patients to have the vaccine, otherwise they will be removed from the waitlist and deemed ineligible for a transplant, unless they have a specific medical exemption. UW told FOX 13 News this policy started "a few weeks ago."

Health officials say the reason for this is safety; when a patient gets a transplant, their immune system is suppressed and in a weakened state for a long time. During this time, they are vulnerable to infections, and COVID-19 can be extremely dangerous for immunocompromised people, if not fatal. Being on a transplant is the ideal time to get vaccinated, UW Medicine says, when patient's immune systems are more likely to respond to the vaccine.

The most important thing to note, however, is that this is nothing new.

UW Medicine says they have for years required up-to-date vaccinations for all patients on transplant waiting lists. The difference now is COVID-19 vaccination is on the list, too.

Other hospitals in Washington that provide transplant procedures include Sacred Heart Medical Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Swedish Medical Center and Virginia Mason Medical Center.

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