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Man ‘willing to die’ rather than get COVID vaccine for transplant

Published: Jan. 30, 2022 at 4:26 AM CST
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BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (WSOC) - A North Carolina man in need of a lifesaving kidney transplant says he will not get the COVID-19 vaccine, despite a hospital refusing to do the transplant without it.

Chad Carswell is a double amputee and has undergone major heart surgeries, but it is his kidney, which is only functioning at 4%, that has him in need of a transplant. He is currently undergoing dialysis three times a week.

“Without [a transplant], there’s no telling how much longer I’ll still be here. I have to have a kidney to prolong my life,” Carswell said.

Carswell’s friends and local businesses raised money for the transplant, and more than 100 people have offered to donate a kidney to him.

But when Carswell went for scans and tests at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he learned he and anyone who wanted to donate would be required to be fully vaccinated before the surgery.

“He said, ‘The last thing we need to talk about is your vaccination status.’ And that’s when I politely told him there was nothing really to talk about it, it wasn’t up for debate [and] that I wasn’t getting it. Then, he told me, ‘You know you’ll die, if you don’t get it.’ And I said, ‘I’m willing to die,’” Carswell said.

Carswell says he’s had COVID-19 twice and doesn’t believe he needs the vaccine. He also says getting the vaccine is a choice and no one should be forced to get one – even if it means he can’t get his much-needed transplant.

“I was born free. I will die free. I’m not changing my mind. I’ve had conversations with my family and everybody that’s close to me. They know where I stand, and it’ll not be a situation that occurs that I will choose to change my mind on this topic,” he said.

The hospital says its policy follows the current standard of care in the United States.

“The reason it is recommended is to provide protection for the patient. Transplant patients are at high risk for severe illness if they don’t have preexisting immunity prior to being transplanted,” said the hospital in a statement.

Carswell is looking at other hospitals in the Carolinas and beyond to see if they’ll perform the surgery.

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