Several hospitals have opted not to treat a 3-year-old boy in need of a heart transplant because his parents are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
The boy, from Cyprus, was denied treatment in foreign hospitals because of the vaccination status of his parents. After being denied treatment in three countries he will now be treated in Greece, Politico reported.
The boy, who has not been named, was hospitalized with serious heart disease. As Cypriot hospitals were unable to perform the necessary procedure, the health ministry arranged for the boy to be taken by air ambulance to Germany last Thursday.
However, the day before the transfer was supposed to take place, the hospital in Frankfurt informed the Cypriot authorities that it would not be going ahead because the boy’s parents had not had the COVID-19 vaccine.
Cyprus suggested that the child could be accompanied by a legal guardian instead of his parents but this suggestion was turned down.
A German health ministry official confirmed there is no rule that says hospitals cannot treat unvaccinated people, let alone children whose parents are not vaccinated. However, the official added that each hospital has its own restrictions and makes its own arrangements with patients.
“Health policies — including vaccination policies — and their concrete implementation are the responsibility of the member states, not the Commission,” a European Commission’s health department spokesman said.
Specialized health centers in the United Kingdom and Israel also declined to perform the procedure because of the vaccination status of his parents.
The boy was then airlifted to a hospital in Greece on Saturday and an operation is scheduled to take place in Athens.
The parents were vaccinated on Thursday but would still have to wait six weeks before their child could be treated.
“I know that unvaccinated patients are admitted to hospitals in Germany,” Alexey Matveev, the father of the child and a Russian national who resides in Cyprus “I didn’t know that I had to be vaccinated for my child being to be operated on in that hospital. If I knew it of course I would have done it … I am healthy and did not want to be vaccinated. I find it inappropriate for someone who is healthy to be vaccinated.”
Cypriot officials had suggested the single dose Johnson &* Johnson vaccine to help speed up the process but the parents declined.
It was last week when an unvaccinated man in Boston was denied a heart transplant, at least in part, due to his vaccination status.
A spokesman for that hospital said “the Covid-19 vaccine, and lifestyle behaviors for transplant candidates to create both the best chance for a successful operation and to optimize the patient’s survival after transplantation, given that their immune system is drastically suppressed.”
“My boy is fighting pretty damn courageously and he has integrity and principles he really believes in and that makes me respect him all the more,” the patient’s dad, David Ferguson, said. “It’s his body. It’s his choice.”