The 31-year-old father who was removed from the heart transplant list at a Boston hospital because he refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine has undergone emergency surgery to be fitted with a mechanical heart pump.
DJ Ferguson’s family has said he was first on the list to receive the transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital — but that he was no longer eligible because of his vaccination status.
On Tuesday, the father of two received a mechanical heart pump — called a left ventricular assist device — that should keep him alive for up to five years, according to ABC News.
“For the foreseeable future, he won’t be able to shower, he won’t be able to swim. He won’t be able to have a life,” his father, David Ferguson, told the news outlet.
Despite the open-heart surgery, Ferguson still needs a transplant urgently due to his rapid deterioration, his parents told “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday.
“He got led down a path where they had to stop doing procedures where they said he was qualified nonetheless for the heart transplant. But he had to get the vaccine in order to get that transplant,” David Ferguson said on the program, Fox News reported.
“He’s deteriorated so much so quickly that they had to resort to open-heart surgery and doing the LVAD [left ventricular assist device] mechanical pump,” he said. “So now my boy has a pump, he’s in recovery. He went through seven hours of surgery.”
The patient’s mother, Tracy Ferguson, told Carlson she was “devastated by the news” that her son was deemed ineligible for a transplant.
Meanwhile, DJ’s partner, Heather, with whom he is expecting a third child, praised the care he has been receiving but lamented his “disheartening” predicament.
“It’s terrible. It sucks because his nurses are amazing. They have been amazing to him. His doctors have been amazing to him,” she told Carlson.
“But having that dangled over our head at the very last minute after he had been through all the testing, after he received his letter saying that he was accepted onto the transplant list, it is just so disheartening that they would hang this over his head right at the last moment,” Heather added.
David Ferguson has said his son doesn’t believe in the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s kind of against his basic principles, he doesn’t believe in it. It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant,” he told CBS Boston.
The parents later insisted their son does not oppose vaccines, saying he just worries the jab would complicate his heart condition.
“He’s not an anti-vaxxer. He has all of his vaccines, and he’s an informed patient who is concerned because of his current cardiac crisis,” Tracey Ferguson told ABC News.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is a Harvard teaching facility, said research had shown transplant recipients were at a much higher risk of dying from COVID compared to non-transplant patients.
“We do everything we can to ensure that a patient who receives a transplanted organ has the greatest chance of survival,” a spokesperson told The Post.
“Our Mass General Brigham healthcare system requires several CDC-recommended vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, and lifestyle behaviors for transplant candidates to create both the best chance for a successful operation and to optimize the patient’s survival after transplantation, given that their immune system is drastically suppressed,” the rep said.
“Patients are not active on the waitlist without this,” the spokesperson said, adding that the hospital’s policy requiring recipients to have the COVID-19 shot is in line with many other transplant programs across the US.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends that immunocompromised people, which includes organ transplant recipients, be vaccinated because they are especially vulnerable to COVID.
The hospital denied that a candidate could be “first on the list” for a transplant because there are varying levels of priority for allocation of organs.
Ferguson has been hospitalized since November ever since his lungs started filling with blood and fluid due to a hereditary heart issue, according to a GoFundMe page set up for him.