By: Greg Staley
Written On: 2021-09-03
Annette Lewis, a 56-year-old terminally ill woman in Alberta who has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis that is affecting both of her lungs has been told that she will be refused a double lung transplant unless she gets vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the condition that Ms. Lewis has is a “terminal condition affecting both of her lungs” the Justice Centre report reads. “Ms. Lewis has been suffering with the illness for over two and a half years and waiting for a transplant for over one year. Just two months ago, her lung capacity was at just 40%. Without this transplant, Ms. Lewis will die.”
On August 9th, 2021, the “Hospital advised Ms. Lewis she will not get her transplant without the vaccine.” This information was confirmed again during a phone conversation that Ms. Lewis had with a member of the Lung Transplant Program team on September 2nd, 2021. In this call, Ms. Lewis was told that she is “number two” on the donor list but would need to get the Covid-19 vaccine to receive her transplant.
On September 2, 2021, the Justice Centre wrote a legal demand letter to Dr. Rhea Varughese, an Assistant Professor at the Lung Transplant Program at the University of Alberta. The report says that “the Justice Centre has demanded that the Lung Transplant Program team at the University of Alberta Hospital confirm within seven days that Ms. Lewis is exempt from any requirement for a Covid-19 vaccine and will remain on the double lung transplant list.”
The Justice Centre called the hospital’s conduct of making an ultimatum of this nature to a terminally ill patient “coercive and unethical.”
“Threatening a patient’s access to life-saving medical treatment for not participating in an experimental treatment for a condition she does not have and may never get is a profound violation of Ms. Lewis’ human dignity, personal autonomy, and her constitutionally protected right to life, liberty and security of the person,” said Allison Pejovic, a Justice Centre Lawyer.
In the Justice Centre report, an extended recording (link here) was included. In this conversation, a member of the lung transplant team told Ms. Lewis she will be removed from the transplant list if she refuses the Covid vaccine.
Doctor: “All of our pre-transplant patients are going to be required to have the Covid vaccine.”
Annette: “…if I don’t take the vaccine then I go off the donor list, is that what you mean?”
Annette: “…wow…that’s pretty scary.”
Annette: “If I don’t get the vaccine, I’m not going to get the transplant, and we all know what the end result of that is for me.”
Annette: “It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t in my case.”
What I personally found most disturbing about the conversation muffled by the sound of Ms. Lewis’s oxygen machine was that the Lung Transplant team member speaking to Ms. Lewis commended her for all the hard work that she had been doing to keep herself in the best condition possible for her transplant.
“We have very few things that we can control. You do the right things about controlling things on your part because you exercise the most that you can. You’re very proactive, diligent and smart and you eat appropriately – you have controlled everything that you can control and I have great respect and admiration for that because your one feisty lady.”
The Justice Centre report said that “Ms. Lewis shared her concerns with the transplant team,” and “while she has received all other childhood vaccinations again, as per the Lung Transplant Program team’s request, she does not want to receive the experimental Covid vaccine at this time.”
The report says that “she does not wish to participate in a new experimental treatment, which is known to have sometimes serious side effects, including permanent disability and death.”
Ms. Lewis outlined a number of considerations in her decision that included:
- The vaccines have not been fully authorized by Health Canada. They are being used under “Interim Authorization” in Canada, with human clinical trials continuing until 2023.
- Covid vaccines have caused notable side effects, including nearly 7,000 reported deaths between December 2020 and June 2021, according to the US Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).
- Health Canada has placed warning labels on the Covid vaccines for adverse events such as blood clotting, myocarditis, pericarditis, and Bell’s Palsy.
- Finally, informed consent is the standard for all medical interventions. The FDA factsheet for the healthcare provider reads, “The recipient or their caregiver has the option to accept or refuse (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine.”
“If Ms. Lewis is removed from the transplant list she will die. This is a gross violation of her freedom of choice. Having to choose between taking an experimental vaccine that she does not want, or certain death, is not a choice,” concluded Allison Pejovic, a Staff Lawyer for the Justice Centre.
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