Colorado's UCHealth hospital system made headlines this month when it declared that it would use COVID-19 vaccination status to determine who gets to receive life-saving organ transplant surgeries. Fallout over the announcement got nationwide attention and garnered negative press for UCHealth.
The Cleveland Clinic did the same, and public pushback was significant.
Now, Texas is using these hospitals' vaccine primacy to woo victims of hospital vax policies to head south and get their care in the Lone Star State.
In early October, reports circulated that UCHealth had denied a kidney transplant to a woman because she had not received the COVID-19 vaccine.
"In almost all situations, transplant recipients and living donors at UCHealth are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements and receiving additional vaccinations," UCHealth said.
And the Cleveland Clinic denied a life-saving kidney transplant to a fully vaccinated patient after months of pre-operation procedures and preparation — all because the kidney donor was not vaccinated.
So now Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas officials are imploring patients to make the trek to Texas and get their life-saving care.
"Here in Texas, vaccines remain voluntary and never forced," Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's office said in a statement to Fox News. "Anyone being denied critical, life-saving organ transplants is welcome here in Texas, where one's rights and freedoms are always protected."
Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) told the outlet that he was happy his state's hospitals have "chosen to put patients before politics" and noted that "too many in the medical profession have forgotten their oaths."
And it's not just elected officials finding ways to help patients. The Texas-based Niklas Organ Donor Awareness Foundation is offering help to patients who have been denied organ transplants in other states over vaccine status by finding them housing while they await surgery.
The foundation's president, Rodney DeBaun, told Fox News that he is fully vaccinated and does not oppose the jabs but added that he thinks they should be a personal choice and not a governmental diktat.
He also said he's unconvinced by UCHealth's claim that unvaxxed patients are somehow at a higher risk of mortality if they get COVID after the surgery.
"If someone's waiting for an organ transplant, if they don't get a transplant, they're going to die," DeBaun told Fox News.