Five days ago, I wrote a diary about DJ Ferguson, a 31-year-old Massachusetts man born with a congenital heart condition — which is on the verge of killing him. He was eligible for a life-saving transplant until he refused to get the COVID vaccination — a requisite for receiving a new organ. And now the clock ticks. I assumed it was a one-off. It was a wrong assumption. And it is Chad Carswell who has proved me wrong

Carswell is familiar with medicine and hospitals as he is a double amputee who has undergone several major surgeries on his heart. Now, this unfortunate man has essentially no kidney function. And he relies on thrice-weekly dialysis to keep the toxins in his blood to a survivable level. But it is not a permanent solution, as Carswell himself knows. He admits,

“without (a kidney transplant), there’s no telling how much longer I’ll be here. I have to have a kidney to prolong my life.”

In one way, Carswell is lucky. He said friends and local businesses have raised money to fund the transplant. And more than 100 people have offered to donate a kidney. But the effort is in vain because Carswell will not get a COVID vaccination. And because he won’t, he is ineligible to receive a new kidney. Organs available for transplant do not meet the demand for them. And as such, they are rationed to people who will most likely survive the procedure. And as doctors use immunosuppressive drugs to prevent new organ rejection, transplant recipients are very susceptible to infectious diseases. This is why vaccinations are generally mandatory — although it seems there is no national rule. And ultimately, it is up to the individual hospital what their policy will be.

Carswell’s hospital explains their position,

“Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s policy follows the current standard of care in the United States, which is to vaccinate all patients on waiting lists or being evaluated for transplant.”

Adding, “We understand that some patients may not wish to be vaccinated. In this case, patients can opt to be evaluated at another transplant center.

I imagine that if Atrium were aware of another facility that didn’t require vaccinations for transplants, they would have told Carswell. So I think it is reasonable to assume it is unlikely there is another one. And Carswell’s only realistic choice is to get vaccinated, if he wants to live.

But Carswell is committed to his course. He will not get the vaccine and is willing to die over it.

When a local reporter asked him, “You will not change your mind?” Caldwell replied,

“No sir, I was born free. I will die free. I’m not changing my mind. I’ve had conversations with my family and everybody who is close to me and they know where I stand and there will not be a situation that occurs where I’ll change my mind on this topic.”

He said doctors and nurses at the hospital spoke with him about getting the vaccine, but he believes it is a choice. And he doesn’t think someone should be forced to get one.

“That’s when I politely told him there’s nothing to talk about. It wasn’t up for debate, I wasn’t getting it. And he told me ‘You know you’ll die if you don’t get it,’ and I told him I’m willing to die.”

I fail to understand his logic. In all likelihood, he got vaccinated as a toddler. He has had multiple surgeries. He has had two limbs amputated. He is hooked up to a machine three times a week. But the one thing that would make him unfree is an injection?


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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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