UW Health is joining a growing number of organ transplant programs that require patients to receive a transplant or be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to be put on an organ waiting list.
Madison Hospital’s policy, beginning next Monday, requires transplant waiting list patients to receive their first dose of vaccine by December 15 and a second dose, if necessary, by January 14. If not, they will be switched to “dormant status,” which means they will not receive organ offers and cannot receive a living donor transplant.
UW Health said those who are not yet on the waiting list will need to be vaccinated before being on the list.
“This new policy reflects our commitment to patient safety and our respect for donors and families who have made the selfless decision to give the gift of life to others,” said Dr. Dixon Kaufman, medical director of the UW Health Transplant Center. A statement on Thursday. “It is unfortunate that transplant recipients – because of anti-rejection drugs – put them at a far greater risk than others for serious illness or death from COVID-19. We believe that just as vaccination is required for other infectious diseases, the vaccination requirement for COVID-19 gives our recipients the best opportunity to survive and thrive after receiving their transplant. “
UW Health said exceptions could be made for people deemed too ill to wait until the vaccination process is complete. The hospital said they may be placed on a waiting list or undergo a transplant with an acknowledgment of the increased risk of serious COVID-19 infection. In such cases, vaccination will be required after transplant surgery as soon as recommended by the medical team.