Hospital Updates Transplant Policy for Unvaccinated: Too Late for One Family

by EditorL

Garnet Harper, who was denied an organ transplant because of his vaccination status. (Courtesy of Meghan Harper)

By Doug Lett

The widow of a man who died after being denied a life saving organ transplant because of his vaccination status said the decision showed “a disgusting disregard for a man who was otherwise a prime candidate for transplantation.”

Meghan Harper, whose husband Garnet died in May, said a recent change in policy by the hospital involved is too little, too late.

On May 22, Garnet Harper of Sudbury, Ontario, died from complications related to dialysis. Mr. Harper was in kidney failure, but was denied a transplant by the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) because he had chosen not to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

On July 27, the LHSC sent The Epoch Times a statement, in which the hospital stated the policy had changed in May—the same month Harper died.

“As the pandemic evolved, so did our vaccination policy. As of May 2023, we no longer require transplant patients to have at least two doses of COVID 19 vaccine, although it is still highly recommended.”

The statement added, “We offer our deepest condolences to the Harper family for their recent loss.”

For Ms. Harper, who watched her husband die, the change in policy came too late.

“London Health Sciences needs to be held accountable for the discriminatory and deadly policy that they created and enforced,” she said in a statement to The Epoch Times, after seeing the hospital’s updated policy.

“Announcing a change in policy does not relieve LHSC of the responsibility they carry in Garnet’s death … experimental medicine should never have been mandated. Even the provincial guidelines they cite as directives for their harsh policy called the injection a recommendation and not a requirement.”

In a July 25 interview with The Epoch Times, Ms. Harper said denying her husband a transplant was unfair.

”I don’t think that it’s fair that anybody be denied an organ transplant in Ontario who needs one … and we need to make sure that people, whether they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated in Ontario, are able to receive the health care that they desperately need,” she said.

She said Mr. Harper found out in February 2022 he had Stage 5 renal failure. The couple was told by a Sudbury doctor that he would likely be rejected as a candidate for transplant because of his stance against the vaccine mandate. Mr. Harper nevertheless decided to stand by his convictions.

COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement

Mr. Harper was referred to the transplant program at LHSC and received a letter from the hospital telling him it was a requirement that he be vaccinated against COVID-19 before he would be considered for the operation.

“We were very frustrated with the whole process because, you know, this is a life-saving procedure, if you don’t receive it, then you are relegated to a life on dialysis. The life expectancy on dialysis is not very good, especially not for a 35-year-old man who has five young children,” said Ms. Harper.

Ms. Harper said her husband had emerged a leader in the “freedom movement” in Sudbury protesting lockdowns and mandates and that he felt strongly he should not be forced to take an untested vaccine.

She said her husband was not opposed to vaccines and explained that he had travelled to Africa as a young adult and had taken all the necessary travel vaccinations.

“He had a profound sense of justice … during a time when everybody was confused and afraid, he really stood [for it],” she said. “He stood at the forefront of that.”

Ms. Harper said the family did everything they could to change the minds of health officials. She said his brothers even offered to donate a kidney, but nothing they said convinced the LHSC to make an exception.

“It’s extremely frustrating, because again … we all know this vaccine was in the trial phases, it’s literally in emergency authorization,” she said.

In the meantime, Mr. Harper began kidney dialysis. Following surgery to create an access point for the procedure, he developed an infection that spread throughout much of his body, Ms. Harper said.

“And then he contracted a whole host of other health issues … including an infected lung … he had back spasms, lost the ability to walk temporarily… the staph infection just proliferated through his body.”

Ms. Harper said her husband continued to fight for his life.

“He was so tenacious. He fought back against all odds and against every one of those health conditions. And he was starting to recover, he was getting stronger, he learned to walk again,”

Ms. Harper said her husband had recovered enough to be considered for dialysis treatment at home.


“He had a stroke that he suffered in the middle of the night, which is a complication of long term hemodialysis … that’s ultimately how he passed,” she said.

It was while she was sitting at her dying husband’s bedside that she received a call from the Trillium Network, which handles organ donations in Ontario.

“When I was sitting with him at his bedside, the Trillium program, the organ donation program in Ontario, called me on the phone in the hospital room to discuss donating my husband’s organs to their organ donation bank, because I could save up to eight people’s lives,” she said.

“I explained to this person, that the reason that my husband is in this bed right now, is in very large part due to the fact that he was not eligible to be even placed on a list for organ donation due to him not being vaccinated. And I said, as long as this program remains inequitable for unvaccinated Canadians, I would refuse to participate in it.”

Ms. Harper said the caller was surprised at her response.

“She told me she did know that unvaccinated individuals were not eligible to receive organs in Canada.”

The LHSC said its policy around COVID-19 vaccination was based on the best advice at the time.

“As it relates to LHSC policy, over the course of the pandemic, LHSC required transplant patients to have at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. This was in alignment with scientific recommendations and provincial guidelines for multi-organ transplant centres, as patients on immunosuppression [medication] who had received a transplant are more likely to die after being infected with COVID-19,” said the LHSC in a statement.

Ms. Harper said she believes a better system is needed and that she’s being contacted by a lot of people facing similar situations.

“I’ve also been having lots of messages from people, internationally, and also across Canada, that are coming out to share their stories to say this is unacceptable,” she said.

“That’s what motivates me to keep going. There’s a lot of people who are in the same situation as my husband. And I do not want anyone else to have to go through the absolute hell that I’ve had to go through.”

Mr. Harper leaves behind his wife and five young children.

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