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Cleveland Man Loses Kidney Transplant Since Donor Didn’t Have COVID Vaccine

Cleveland Man Loses Kidney Transplant Since Donor Didn’t Have COVID Vaccine

The doctors knew for months the donor is not vaccinated and always told her it isn’t a problem. The clinic won’t grandfather in the transplant.

Mike Ganim will not receive a kidney on October 13 because the Cleveland Clinic implemented a new policy right before the surgery:

Debi Ganim said they were informed on October 8 that Cleveland Clinic implemented a new safety policy that required both living donors and organ recipients to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mike is fully vaccinated, but the donor is not.

“It made us feel like we were back to square one,” said Debi. “I’ve been terrified. Sometimes I have my moments that I don’t think about it, but it comes back, and I think, ‘What’s going to happen?'” she said, with her voice cracking with emotion.

The clinic just implemented the policy. The surgery has been on the books for months.

A doctor told Ganim two years ago he needed a kidney because of advanced polycystic kidney disease.

Doctors could not find a donor so Debi asked on Facebook:

Weeks later, Debi received a message on Facebook. “Oh my gosh. I cannot believe we are finally reading the words, ‘I am your match,’” Debi recalled.

The message was from a longtime acquaintance, Sue George, whose daughter is a former third grade student of Debi’s, some 13 years ago, but they had kept in touch over the years.

“I am your stranger!” George told her with a laugh. “But I just didn’t want to tell you, because I didn’t want to disappoint you, but I’m trying. I’m trying,” she told Debi.

Sue spent months going through preparation and pre-operation procedures. She told the doctors she did not have the vaccine. She said the doctors told her it was fine that she is not vaccinated:

“We were blindsided,” said George, who said that doctors knew all along that she was not vaccinated, and no one said that it would be a problem. George said that getting the vaccine now is not an option. “I don’t want to get the vaccine,” she explained. “I’ve got reasons — medical, religious, and also freedom.”

Debi and Mike Ganim are still hoping that there will be a way to proceed with transplant surgery, if perhaps, George undergoes her portion of the surgery at another hospital in Cleveland or Columbus.

“It’s just wrong in so many ways,” said Debi, of the Clinic’s decision to cancel Mike’s surgery. “All because of a policy that was just decided.”

Why just COVID? Why not anything else? I imagine being a transplant patient even the common cold could be dangerous. Why not require the flu shot and other vaccines?

Maybe they do, but still:

“The health and safety of our patients is our top priority. Cleveland Clinic has recently developed safety protocols for solid organ transplantation that 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, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of their surgery and recovery is crucial. 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 organ transplantation using a living donor, which involves the living donor undergoing a scheduled surgery, we are requiring COVID-19 vaccination for both donor and recipient before we can proceed with the surgery, for the safety of both.

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.”


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Big, big lawsuit time.

    mailman in reply to henrybowman. | October 13, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Yep, organisations like this only understand something when money is involved. Sue them for EVERY fucking thing they have.

    artichoke in reply to henrybowman. | October 13, 2021 at 11:56 am

    Cleveland Clinic was clever. They said it’s for the donor’s safety, and overall the donor has nothing to gain legally from this — the optimal outcome is that she loses one of her kidneys and there are no other problems.

    So suing could be tricky. You’d have to show that the recipient was entitled to have the donor undergo a voluntary medical operation. Or something like that.

      healthguyfsu in reply to artichoke. | October 13, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      Saying it’s for the donor’s safety is a nice way to cover some legal liability, but they can still face a lawsuit from the recipient (or their surviving family).

So the hospital thinks the risk of death is too great from not being vaccinated but not that great from not getting a needed kidney? What are they smoking?

Antifundamentalist | October 13, 2021 at 10:32 am

“safe and effective” – that’s what they said about the original HPV vaccine. It took another 5 years or more before they had it revised enough to deal with some of the more severe side effects that turned out not to be as rare as they predicted. COVID vaccines themselves have “more study is necessary” regarding a few questions right on the packaging, indicating that they don’t yet have the data to address some indications for concern.
But, you know, we can’t talk about that stuff. And we can’t allow people to have a real choice. Because it is essential that TPTB assert themselves enough to get enough people used to blind compliance that they will drag their fellows along or watch without interference while their fellows get dragged away.

“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.”

No they haven’t, and none of the available vaccines are FDA-approved — just “authorized,” based on propaganda that Covid is far more dangerous than it actually is.

    randian in reply to Dantzig93101. | October 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

    Even if they were so determined, it’s a non-sequitur. Why randomly insert covid propaganda into a statement about a transplant?

Only a fool doesn’t beware the reckoning.

Cleveland Clinic is right, and they are doing their best, Mr. Tapscott, to do no harm.

I deal with lung transplant and other transplant patients in my practice at a university hospital. The requirement for vaccination IN TRANSPLANT PATIENTS is both long-standing and reasonable. We do indeed require a host of vaccinations prior to transplant, and some of these are recently implemented (e.g., zoster vaccine is required for some transplants), while some are long-standing (e.g., tetanus booster). The consequences of fighting an infection in patients with substantial immune suppression due to the anti-rejection drugs are such that we really want these patients to be vaccinated. For the same reason, we require a host of behavior modifications — obese patients have to lose weight before we’ll do a lung transplant, for example (excessive weight crushes the new lungs and leads to higher complications; we know this). We ask people who are about to receive a new liver for alcoholic cirrhosis to stop drinking. And so on.

This is not a mandate for vaccination in the general public. It’s for a specific set of patients who already have to abide by a stringent set of rules so as to receive something that they SAY they want. If you don’t want to abide by the rules, don’t ask us to spend a few hundred hours of the collective lives of the transplant team.

And yes, the donors need to be vaccinated when possible — we don’t like transplanting organs from patients with known infection (sometimes it happens, but we don’t like it).

There are more people who need an organ transplant than there are organs to transplant. We don’t want to put new organs into people who are at a higher risk of complications. COVID is one such complication.

This is a reasonable rule.

    stevewhitemd in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Sorry, “Mr. Tapscott” wrote something similar at Insty, where I also responded. That doesn’t belong here. Apologies to Ms. Eastman.

      stevewhitemd in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 11:46 am

      AAAAGGG! to Ms. Chastain!

      Dr.Dave in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you! I have been through a lung transplant and vaccinations was part of the process. Similar stories have been running on TGP and revolver concerning the transplant patients. I explained what you said here to be called a fascist troll and was told to FOff and to go play in the street. I have personally had the Vax because the Rick of covid is great than the risk of the Vax
      I am reluctant to have my very healthy top tier athelete 15 year old son take the Vax due to potential heat inflammation. I’m beginning to wonder if anyone believes in science and why we can’t get truthful information to make intelligent informed decisions from our government.

    A Thinker in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Steve, I get what you are saying, but I think you miss the point. The recipient has been vaccinated, yet it is the recipient being denied the transplant, putting the recipient’s life at risk. Ethically, shouldn’t it be the recipient’s choice whether to accept the risk of an unvaccinated donor? I would guess that the donor would be more than willing to undergo a Covid test, and I expect that the hospital already requires one, but we are condemning a vaccinated recipient for the donor’s crime of not accepting the experimental use vaccine? Like you said, more people need organs than there are available donors, why punish the recipients?

      artichoke in reply to A Thinker. | October 13, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      It’s tricky, because this operation has no medical benefit to the donor. Hence, “do no harm” is to do nothing, and even moreso if the donor is at an elevated risk from the operation due to being unvaxed.

      By the way, how are vaxed transplant patients and especially donors doing? I am curious how a vax that doesn’t prevent infection but somehow limits symptoms does in transplantation situations.

        A Thinker in reply to artichoke. | October 13, 2021 at 1:01 pm

        If the donor is volunteering, whatever happened to assumption of risk? I’d think the risk of the kidney donation surgery would be greater than the risk of catching Covid in the OR? If we limit ourselves to do no harm, how could there ever be a transplant, the donor NEVER benefits, but always gets a scar.

        randian in reply to artichoke. | October 14, 2021 at 6:04 am

        At elevated risk from what?

          artichoke in reply to randian. | October 16, 2021 at 11:04 pm

          Stevewhitemd says the risk could be elevated. The burden is not on me to prove the risk is elevated, but on you to prove that is not (do no harm, remember?), in this complex situation with a new type of vaccine.

          If I ask the hospital to stab me in the gut, the hospital won’t just give me a consent form and then do it. They’re not in the business of harming patients even if they want to be harmed.

    henrybowman in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    “a specific set of patients who already have to abide by a stringent set of rules so as to receive something that they SAY they want.”
    You don’t tell a donor for two years that her status is absolutely OK, then at the 11th hour, change the rules and tell her that something that has been “safe” for the last two+ years is suddenly unsafe because somebody in your administration changed their damn mind.
    Not unless a hurricane has trashed your OR or something. And that’s not what happened here.

      artichoke in reply to henrybowman. | October 16, 2021 at 11:08 pm

      This is a valid objection, the last minute nature of the change, in a typically long process like organ transplantation. You get all the pieces in place with much effort, luck and time, then at the last minute the rules are changed, and the patient is running out of time. You need a very good medical reason for this.

      But in general I think the new rule makes sense given what several people here say about medical risks. Just not the last minute switch.

    NavyMustang in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    “The consequences of fighting an infection in patients with substantial immune suppression due to the anti-rejection drugs are such that we really want these patients to be vaccinated.”

    How would that apply to the DONOR who doesn’t have any issues with rejection?

      stevewhitemd in reply to NavyMustang. | October 13, 2021 at 1:26 pm

      Because donor-based viral infection are a risk to the recipient. We had this problem with hepatitis C, for example.

        I’m way past tired of being lectured to by “experts” about the “risks” of life-saving medical care. There is no risk greater than that of dying for lack of proper medical care.

          txvet2 in reply to txvet2. | October 14, 2021 at 12:44 am

          Oh, good. A downvote. Somebody thinks killing a patient is better than allowing them to make an INFORMED choice to receive a transplant from a donor who has the good common sense to avoid a completely unnecessary injection of an unproven, experimental substance with potentially deadly side effects, for which there is no proven need. Lord save us from “medical professionals”.

    Ironclaw in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 2:30 pm

    Bullshit, they knew about this for MONTHS and then pulled the rug out on this patient at the last minute. This wasn’t a medical. decision, it was purely political.

    Sanddog in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    I can see the point of requiring the recipient to be vaccinated. It’s just one more measure of determining how compliant they will be. But the donor? Are they rejecting organs from deceased organ donors who are not vaccinated? I’m guessing that’s a big no. So that makes this more about forcing dictates upon the public with the carrot/howitzer approach. See what will happen to you if you don’t obey us?

      randian in reply to Sanddog. | October 14, 2021 at 6:08 am

      Are they rejecting organs from deceased organ donors who are not vaccinated

      Presumably so. It’s obvious the powers that be are setting up a caste system, where the unvaccinated play the role of the unclean. You should see the restrictions in New South Wales and Victoria if you’re unvaccinated, it’s insane.

    Dathurtz in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 13, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    Wouldn’t the risk of transmitting covid via transplanted be very small simply by requiring a negative covid test?

    I don’t know how the system works, but I understood this wasn’t a gift to a random patient, but rather a donation specifically to a particular person. If that is accurate, then it isn’t a matter of best allocating a donation, but a slightly more risky donation vs. no donation. Did I misunderstand?

    In that light, the application on the rule looks like maliciousness.

      randian in reply to Dathurtz. | October 14, 2021 at 6:10 am

      The implication is that the test isn’t reliable. I’ve been saying that for a long time, in the context of false positives.

        Dathurtz in reply to randian. | October 14, 2021 at 8:02 am

        I know. I want doctors to have to admit how nonsensical their bullshit is.

          artichoke in reply to Dathurtz. | October 19, 2021 at 12:42 pm

          I’m unhappy with the result too and wish the risks had been weighed differently given the totality of circumstances in this case. But that doesn’t mean the risks were nonexistent or small or wrongly assessed.

    Dolce Far Niente in reply to stevewhitemd. | October 14, 2021 at 9:53 am

    Your are conflating two different issues, and I think you are doing it deliberately.
    The various requirements for the recipient may truthfully be considered reasonable, but to reject the DONOR because they do not meet the strict criteria required of the *recipient* is ridiculous. Do you ever require a donor to lose weight or quit drinking or cease other fractionally risky behavior? To get vaccinated for tetanus or yellow fever? Of course not.

    The status of being unvaccinated is NOT identical to being infected. Additionally its clear that the vaxxed are not only getting sick but also ARE infecting others. This requirement does NOT protect the donor from being infected, even though you require the vaccination of the donor.

    “we don’t like transplanting organs from patients with known infection (sometimes it happens, but we don’t like it).”

    It is sheer propaganda, deliberately promulgated, to presume that the unvaxxed are plague carriers, and while it certainly promotes a political purpose, it serves no scientific one. Only a flat earther would make those claims.


To date seems the Reed Cross likes my unvaccinated and uninfected blood. There’s no spike proteins in it…

Pure cowards. Cleveland Clinic “Every Life Deserves World Class Care”
What a Joke!

    Ironclaw in reply to ajcbjl. | October 13, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    Every life, unless you think for yourself and refuse to take experimental, untested garbage non-vaccines.

barbiegirl ny | October 14, 2021 at 8:18 am

As we can see, the Hippocratic Oath has gone the way of our Constitution. They want to pick and choose who lives and dies based on their politics? Good. I am no longer an organ donor.