The Cleveland Clinic in the Cincinnati suburb of Eastlake halted a lifesaving kidney transplant due to a new policy that has now proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare. It was implemented just days before the surgery was scheduled, and it required COVID-19 vaccinations for both the donor and recipient, as reported by WKYC-TV.

In this particular case, the recipient is fully vaccinated, but the donor is not, the station reported.

“It made us feel like we were back to square one,” Debi Ganim told WKYC in an emotional interview regarding the plight of her husband Mike. “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?'”

The Background

Mike Ganim found out a couple of years ago that his polycystic kidney disease was advancing to the point where the doctors were now saying that he would need a new kidney, according to WKYC.

“‘It’s transplant time. No dialysis. We need a transplant, and we need it as soon as possible,'” Debi Ganim recalled that the doctors had said at that time.

More from WKYC:

Hope for a donor began to wane, when doctors suggested that she make her story public. So Debi posted a request on her Facebook page, asking for anyone who might be willing, to be tested as a potential donor. The post got more than 100 shares, and she was humbled by the dozens of messages of support. Friends, relatives, even strangers offered to take the blood test to find out if they were an organ donation match with Mike.

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 lot of laughter. “But I just didn’t want to tell you, because I didn’t want to disappoint you, but I’m trying. I’m trying.”

It took several months of pre-operation preparation and procedures, but WKYC reported that the surgery had been scheduled for Wednesday, October 13.

However, the station also had to report that last Friday the Ganim family got some devastating news: there was not going to be an operation after all.

“We were blindsided,” George said to WKYC, and he said that the doctors knew all along that their donor had been unvaccinated but no one had told them it would be an issue.

George also told the station that getting the vaccine is not an option for her: “I don’t want to get the vaccine. I’ve got reasons — medical, religious, and also freedom.”

Now What?

The Ganims told WKYC that they are not giving up the fight just yet. For example, they believe that there is a possibility that they might be able to have the procedure at an alternate clinic in Columbus or Cleveland.

“It’s just wrong in so many ways,” Mrs. Ganim told the station when she was commenting on their decision to cancel her husband’s surgery. “All because of a policy that was just decided.”

What did the Cleveland Clinic say about this?

WKYC reached out to the clinic in an effort to see if Ganim’s surgery could be grandfathered into its new policy, and the station received the following statement from the clinic:

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.

Anything Else?

Similar decisions have come from the administrative wings of various other hospitals as well.

UCHealth, a hospital system based in Colorado, said earlier this month that they have been denying organ transplants to patients who are unvaccinated in “almost all situations.”

One woman, in particular, had her organ transplant denied from the UCHealth system, and she morbidly said that her “days are numbered.”

Seriously, have we all lost our minds here?

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