Alaska doctors forced to ration life-sustaining treatments as Covid patients clog up hospitals

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CNBC 14 October, 2021 - 11:35am 28 views

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An Ohio woman was denied a lifesaving liver transplant due to her not being vaccinated against the coronavirus.

"I don’t think they do care," Michelle Vitullo told WJW, after the Cleveland Clinic indefinitely cancelled her liver transplant surgery. "I feel bad because my grandkids, they say, ‘Grandma, we’re praying for you to get better.’ It breaks my heart because now I have to tell them I may not get better."

Michelle has been battling stage 4 liver disease for years and had been receiving care from doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, the outlet reported. She and her husband of 47 years, Jim Vitullo, say they made sweeping changes to their lives in order for Michelle to receive the care.  

"They had us sign an agreement that we would live within one hour of the Cleveland Clinic, I had to quit my job because of all the visits, ended up sleeping literally hundreds of days in my car in the carport there because of the expense,"  Jim recounted.

After extensive testing, they found that their daughter, Angela Green, was a match to Michelle, which elated the family. 

Michelle’s health was stabilized and a surgery date for the end of September was set. But that all soon changed.  

"We were told to get ready," Green told WJW. "Then we get the news we were taken off the list and we can’t do it without the vaccine and it was heartbreaking."

The entire family is against getting the vaccine, citing religious reasons and previous health problems. 

"We’ve heard of adverse reactions like blood clotting and heart problems," added Angela,  "Those are not supposed to happen from a vaccine and we don’t feel comfortable taking on that many risks."

"To us, it’s a big mistake. It’s against our beliefs," Jim added.

Two of the Cleveland area’s largest hospital systems, the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, require patients be vaccinated against the virus ahead of an organ transplant, WJW previously reported

Michelle and her family are now searching for another hospital to perform the surgery. 

The Cleveland Clinic told Fox News in a statement that "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, reducing the risk of a COVID-19 infection around the time of their surgery and recovery is crucial," the statement continued. 

"For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person’s immune response. Serious complications of COVID-19 are most likely to develop in those individuals who have weakened immune systems, as their body has a reduced ability to fight and recover from infections. 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."

The Cleveland Clinic also noted that no one on the waiting list for an organ transplant has been removed due to not being vaccinated, and that "the vaccination is to prevent severe illness or death from COVID-19."

A similar story recently unfolded in Colorado, where a woman with stage 5 renal failure was denied a kidney transplant due to her and her donor being unvaccinated.

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

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Cleveland Clinic cancels Eastlake man’s kidney transplant surgery because donor not vaccinated

News 5 Cleveland 14 October, 2021 - 12:20pm

Conventional wisdom says that if you're vaccinated and you get a breakthrough infection with the coronavirus, you can transmit that infection to someone else and make that person sick.

But new evidence suggests that even though that may happen on occasion, breakthrough infections might not represent the threat to others that scientists originally thought.

Ross Kedl, an immunologist at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, will point out to anyone who cares to listen that basic immunology suggests the virus of a vaccinated person who gets infected will be different from the virus of an infected unvaccinated person.

That's because vaccinated people have already made antibodies to the coronavirus. Even if those antibodies don't prevent infection, they still "should be coating that virus with antibody and therefore helping prevent excessive downstream transmission," Kedl says. And a virus coated with antibodies won't be as infectious as a virus not coated in antibodies.

In Provincetown, Mass., this summer, a lot of vaccinated people got infected with the coronavirus, leading many to assume that this was an example of vaccinated people with breakthrough infections giving their infection to other vaccinated people.

"In all these cases where you have these big breakthrough infections, there's always unvaccinated people in the room," he says.

In a recent study from Israel of breakthrough infections among health care workers, the researchers report that in "all 37 case patients for whom data were available regarding the source of infection, the suspected source was an unvaccinated person."

"I have seen no one report actually trying to trace whether or not the people who were vaccinated who got infected are downstream — and certainly only could be downstream — of another vaccinated person," Kedl says.

There's new laboratory evidence supporting Kedl's supposition. Initially, most vaccine experts predicted that mRNA vaccines like the ones made by Pfizer and Moderna that are injected into someone's arm muscle would generate only the kinds of antibodies that circulate throughout the body.

But that might not be the whole story.

"I think what was the big surprise here is that the mRNA vaccines are going beyond that," says Michal Caspi Tal, until recently an instructor at Stanford University's Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and now a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What Tal has found is that in addition to the circulating antibodies, there was a surprisingly large amount of antibodies in mucosal membranes in the nose and mouth, two of the primary entry points for the coronavirus.

Immunologist Jennifer Gommerman of the University of Toronto found this as well.

"This is the first example where we can show that a local mucosal immune response is made, even though the person got the vaccine in an intramuscular delivery," Gommerman says.

If there are antibodies in the mucosal membranes, they would likely be coating any virus that got into the nose or throat. So any virus that was exhaled by a sneeze or a cough would likely be less infectious.

Gommerman says that until now, it seemed likely that a vaccine that was delivered directly to the mucosal tissue was the only way to generate antibodies in the nose or throat.

"Obviously a mucosal vaccination would be great too. But at least we're not sitting ducks," Gommerman says. "Otherwise everyone would be getting breakthrough infection."

But there's other evidence that a vaccinated person's breakthrough infection may not transmit efficiently to others.

Marion Pepper, an immunologist at the University of Washington, says a recent study from the Netherlands looked at how well virus from vaccinated people could infect cells in the lab.

Pepper says the answer was not well.

"If you actually isolate virus from people who are getting a secondary infection after being vaccinated, that virus is less good at infecting cells," Pepper says. "It's not known why. Is it covered with an antibody? Maybe. Has it been hit by some other kind of immune mediators, cytokines, things like that? Maybe. Nobody really knows. But the virus does seem to be less viable coming from a vaccinated person."

More studies are emerging that suggest there's something different about the virus coming from a vaccinated person, something that may help prevent transmission.

Whatever it is, the University of Colorado's Kedl says it's one more reason that getting vaccinated is a good idea.

"Because you're going to be even more protected yourself. And you're going to be better off protecting other people."

Kedl says that's what you call a win-win situation.

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