A North Carolina man in need of a life-saving kidney transplant has been forced to turn down more than 100 prospective donors because of a hospital policy that requires him to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to undergo the operation, according to a report.
Burke County resident Chad Carswell said that he’s on dialysis three times a week and had gone to Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem in hopes of getting a kidney transplant, news station WSOC reported.
“Without [a kidney transplant], there’s no telling how much longer I’ll be here, I have to have a kidney to prolong my life,” Carswell told the news station.
Carswell, a double amputee who has undergone several major heart surgeries, said that local businesses ran fundraisers for his operation and more than 100 people had offered to donate a kidney.
But he said the hospital told him that he and anyone who wanted to donate a kidney would be required to be vaccinated before the surgery.
Carswell, who is unvaccinated, won’t budge despite pleas from his doctors and nurses.
“That’s when I politely told him there’s nothing to talk about,” Carswell told the outlet. “It wasn’t up for debate, I wasn’t getting it. And he told me ‘You know you’ll die if you don’t get it,’ and I told him I’m willing to die.”
Carswell said that he believes the vaccine should be a choice and no one should be forced to get it.
“I was born free. I will die free. I’m not changing my mind,” Carswell told the outlet.
“I’ve had conversations with my family and everybody who is close to me and they know where I stand and there will not be a situation that occurs where I’ll change my mind on this topic.”
Carswell said he is looking at other hospitals to see if they’ll perform the surgery.
Atrium Health said the policy is in place to protect transplant patients who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 since they are immunocompromised.
“Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s policy follows the current standard of care in the United States, which is to vaccinate all patients on waiting lists or being evaluated for transplant,” the hospital said.
“We understand that some patients may not wish to be vaccinated,” the statement continued. “In this case, patients can opt to be evaluated at another transplant center.”
Carswell’s health battle comes after a 31-year-old father was removed from a heart transplant list at a Boston hospital over his refusal to get the vaccine.