Upstate man removed from organ transplant list after declining to get COVID-19 vaccine

Jason Wilson has had kidney failure since he was 10 years old

WYFF 4Updated: 11:10 AM EST Jan 31, 2022Infinite Scroll EnabledTaggart Houck ReporterPlay Video SHOW TRANSCRIPT


The latest breaking updates, delivered straight to your email inbox.Your Email AddressSUBMITPrivacy NoticeGREENVILLE, S.C. —

An Upstate man has been declared inactive on a kidney transplant list after he said he has no plans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jason Wilson, of Easley, has had kidney failure since he was 10 years old.

For a while, his condition improved, he said.

But about two years ago, he began dialysis and was placed on MUSC Health’s list for a kidney transplant.

It was on Nov. 1 that he got a letter from the health system that said he would be moved to inactive status if he didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 1, 2022.

“If you do not wish to be vaccinated, we will move you to inactive status until we are able to verify proof of completed vaccination,” it read, in part.

Wilson said there was an effort to get him on board.

“Right before they moved me to inactive, I got a phone call from a manager down there at MUSC and she had asked me what it was going to take, what could they do to make me get the shot? And I said, at this time there’s nothing you can say,” Wilson said.

A spokesperson shared a statement with WYFF News 4 on the policy.

“MUSC Health is part of a growing number of transplant centers who are making this same requirement, due to the overwhelming evidence of improving patient outcomes post-transplant for those who are vaccinated.

Before declining transplant candidacy, every effort is being made to understand the rationale behind individual vaccine refusal and to reduce barriers or misinformation related to vaccine acceptance.

As part of the transplant process, we require many vaccinations and wellness exams to be completed (colonoscopy, mammograms, pap smears, etc), in addition to COVID-19 vaccines. All of these requirements are to assure a safe and successful post-transplant outcome,” said Heather Woolwine who serves as the Director of Public Affairs, Media Relations and Presidential Communications for MUSC.

Wilson said doctors told him he has about 5 to 7 years on dialysis.

He’s now in year 2.

“I know for me right now, I got a little bit of working room to kind of hold up to see what happens in the future,” he said.

“I see it as so unethical, I see it as inhumane and I do believe that it’s unconstitutional,” said State Rep. Ashley Trantham, who represents the Pelzer area of Greenville County.

Trantham heard about Jason’s story and after unsuccessful attempts to get him back on the list, turned toward a different direction.

“The only other thing that I can think of doing for him was to file legislation that says that any hospital system cannot deny somebody the opportunity for that life-saving procedure based on their COVID vaccination status,” she said.

She said the bill also addresses insurance companies to ensure that they can’t deny coverage.

Trantham said she’s hopeful lawmakers will move forward with the bill.

In the meantime, Wilson said he’s hoping a COVID vaccination requirement will ease over time.

“Maybe they can kind of back up on the shot and just leave it as highly recommended like the flu shot,” he said.

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