Cline versus common-sense organ transplant rules

I had hoped Congressman Cline’s recent experience with COVID might give him a new perspective on the need for prudent actions to combat the spread of the still-dangerous and sometimes deadly pandemic.

Instead, as before, he stands with those whose supposed right to be unvaccinated trumps any concern for public health or any consideration of medical science. While vaccinated himself, he lacks the simple courage, decency and respect for life to tell people to get vaccinated. Instead he simply tells them to “make the decision that’s right for them.”

Cline, along with other Congressional Republicans, has introduced a bill to prohibit organ transplant centers from denying transplants based on whether the donor or recipient is vaccinated against COVID.

In a press release, Cline quotes the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons supporting this legislation.

According to Wikipedia, the AAPS is a “politically conservative non-profit association that promotes medical misinformation, such as HIV/AIDS denialism, the abortion-breast cancer hypothesis, vaccine and autism connections, and homosexuality reducing life expectancy. The association was founded in 1943 to oppose a government attempt to nationalize health care.” This is an organization that routinely rejects evidence-based medical science. Its support for any legislation should raise doubts about that legislation. Cline’s willingness to cite the AAPS should raise doubts about him.

The American Independent Foundation reports:

The medical website Stat reported in January that both physicians and medical ethicists have long favored deciding who gets transplants in part based on who is most likely to survive and thrive. Unvaccinated transplant recipients are at an especially high risk of dying if they get COVID-19.

“The entire transplant evaluation process, which can be very long and very demanding, is about making sure patients are in the best physical, mental, and social condition to endure a transplant, and then all the downstream effects of transplantation,” transplant specialist Olivia Kates of Johns Hopkins Medicine told the outlet.

The report also noted that such requirements are common for potential transplant recipients, who are often prohibited from smoking cigarettes and required to be inoculated against hepatitis B and other illnesses in order to be eligible for consideration.

In an essay published by NBC News on Jan. 31, medical ethics experts J. Russell Teagarden of the Working Group on Compassionate Use and Preapproval Access and Arthur L. Caplan of the NYU School of Medicine argue that COVID-19 vaccination status is and should be an important consideration in deciding who gets organ transplants because it is a factor in likelihood of success.

“The likelihood of transplant success is based, in part, on transplant candidates’ susceptibility to infections — an important cause of death after heart transplants. … Accordingly, in picking who gets a heart, hospitals have made vaccination one of a variety of considerations. That is not bias against the unvaccinated. It is trying to save the most lives with a scarce organ supply,” they write.

In his statement on Tuesday, Cline wrote, “Getting vaccinated is a personal choice and should not be mandated.”

Noting this frequent argument, Teagarden and Caplan observe, “Choices have consequences, sometimes very tragic consequences.”

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