An Ohio woman who refuses to get the COVID-19 vaccine for religious and medical reasons was denied a life-saving transplant because she refuses to get the shot, but the hospital says she needs it as the transplant would weaken her immune system.
Michelle Vitullo, 65, has been going to the Cleveland Clinic for treatment for her stage 4 liver disease since 2019. At that stage, the liver is permanently damaged and many of its cells turn into scar tissue.
But she has refused to get the vaccine for religious reasons, and also over fears it could damage her health, with that stance now derailing an urgently-needed transplant.
Despite the drama, Vitullo is still refusing to have the vaccine, and is now hoping another hospital might perform the procedure instead.
Michelle Vitullo, 65, has stage 4 liver disease and was denied a lifesaving transplant this month
Vitullo was initially excited on learning that her daughter Angela Green was an exact match.
Doctors were set to remove part of her liver and use it to save her mother when the entire procedure was suddenly called off at the end of September, around two weeks before the surgery was scheduled.
‘We were told to get ready,’ Green, 43, told WJW in Cleveland. ‘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 Cleveland Clinic released a statement saying that it recently began requiring organ donors and transplant candidates to be vaccinated.
The hospital requires a COVID-19 vaccine for donors and recipients, but Michelle, her husband Jim and their daughter Angela believe the vaccine is a ‘big mistake’
Angela, who was going to donate portion of her liver to her mother, says she’s worried about ‘adverse reactions like blood clotting and heart problems’ from the vaccine
‘For the living donor, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of a surgical operation is crucial,’ the world-renown hospital said.
‘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 entire family is suddenly facing the prospect that Michelle may not get better – though they still refuse to get the vaccine.
‘It’s just wrong,’ said Jim, Michelle’s husband. ‘And I thought, “How can you do that to somebody?”‘
Jim told station WJW that the family did everything to follow the rules at great expense.
‘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,’ he said.
The entire family, including daughter Angela, oppose the vaccine for medical and religious reasons.
‘To us, it’s a big mistake. It’s against our beliefs,’ Jim said.
‘We’ve heard of adverse reactions like blood clotting and heart problems,’ Angela said.
The world-renown Cleveland Clinic requires vaccines…