A 9-year-old boy is being denied a kidney transplant by a hospital because his father is not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Tanner Donaldson is a regular third-grader who loves to play basketball and lacrosse. However, Tanner was born with one kidney, and it only functions between 18-20% of maximum capacity.
"He was born with a birth defect called posterior urethral valves. It's a valve that blocks urine from exiting the body," Tanner's father, Dane Donaldson, told WEWS-TV.
The family is managing Tanner's condition right now, but at some point, he will need a kidney transplant. In 2018, both of Tanner's parents were found to be perfect donor matches to give a kidney to their son.
The family wanted to put off having the surgery as long as possible since transplanted kidneys from a live donor only last an average of 20 years.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Now, the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital is refusing to perform the operation because the father is unvaccinated. The Donaldsons received a letter from the hospital in November notifying them that all donors and organ recipients must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get a transplant surgery.
Donaldson doesn't want to get the COVID-19 vaccine because of religious reasons, and because he is concerned with side effects.
"It was a little bit thrown down our throat. I mean, it was everywhere we turned," Donaldson said of the COVID-19 vaccine. "I couldn't shop at a grocery store without hearing it over the loudspeaker. So the more it became the more just studying it, what's involved in it, is there informed consent? Do I get to see the ingredient list?"
Plus, Donaldson was already infected with COVID, and so he believes he has immunity from his prior infection.
Donaldson believes that the hospital is being hypocritical since the hospital will do transplants of organs from a deceased person who isn't vaccinated.
Donaldson told the Epoch Times, "I asked them in that car accident victim, would you vaccinate him on the way to the hospital to rip his kidney out, and they said, 'No.'"
"A live donor is the best donor for kidneys, but they’ll take a kidney from a deceased person not vaccinated, it makes no sense," Donaldson explained.
Donaldson said he is willing to sign a waiver freeing the hospital of any liability should he or Tanner get infected with COVID-19, but the hospital won't budge on its vaccine mandate.
The father hopes that the Cleveland Clinic will change its policy or give him an exception.
"I don't know what we do today. You know, I gotta think somewhere out there, that cooler heads would prevail and we could, you know, I'd love it still to be at the Clinic and us come around and have some type of dialogue and say, ‘Okay, you know, let's look at your case,'" Donaldson stated. "We're trying to put plan B in place. The number one thing I can do is keep him as healthy as possible and I can remain and keep my health the best I can. But it's stressful. There's no doubt about it. You know, it just is."
Tanner, who was born at the Cleveland Clinic and has received treatment there for all nine years of his life, will likely need to go to another hospital to receive the procedure.
The Cleveland Clinic informed WEWS-TV that they can't comment on individual cases, but issued a statement:
In 2021, Cleveland Clinic developed COVID-19 safety protocols for transplantation and living donation to minimize the risks of possible COVID-19 exposure during the pandemic.
At this time, Cleveland Clinic's safety protocols for solid organ transplantation require COVID-19 vaccination to be an active transplant candidate or living donor. Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety.
Living donation for organ transplantation has been a life-saving treatment, but it is not without risks to the donor. For the living donor, reducing the risk of a COVID-19 infection around the time of their surgery and recovery is crucial. Individuals who are actively infected with COVID-19 have a much higher rate of complications during and after surgery, even if the infection is asymptomatic. We continually strive to minimize risk to our living donors, and vaccination is an important component to ensure the safest approach and optimal outcomes for donors.
For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person’s immune response. Serious complications of COVID-19 are most likely to develop in those individuals who have weakened immune systems, as their body has a reduced ability to fight and recover from infections. The FDA-authorized vaccines have been determined to be safe and effective and are the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19, especially when administered prior to transplantation.
The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. As the pandemic evolves, we will continue to evaluate our safety protocols.