Woman Rejects Vaccine as Christian, Refused Life-Saving Kidney Transplant

Leilani Lutali, a born-again Christian, decided to reject taking the COVID-19 vaccine based on her faith, but is facing a huge conundrum now she's found that her local hospital won't approve her life-saving kidney transplant surgery until she gets inoculated.

Lutali, 56, from Aurora, Colorado, has stage five kidney disease that puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney — but she has refused to take the COVID vaccine because of the role fetal cell lines have played in the development of vaccines.

"As a Christian, I can't support anything that has to do with abortion of babies, and the sanctity of life for me is precious," she told the Associated Press.

She had tried to get the kidney operation done at a UCHealth-run hospital, which says the majority of transplant recipients and living donors are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, due to the increased risk that patients could be hospitalized and die from the virus.

UCHealth, which runs several clinics across the United States, emailed Lutali, giving her 30 days to start taking the COVID vaccine. If Lutali refuses, she'll be removed from the kidney transplant waiting list.

Although Lutali has found a kidney donor for her, she is also not vaccinated for religious reasons. Lutali met her donor, Jaimee Fougner, at Bible study 10 months ago.

Fougner has defended Lutali's position. "It's your choice on what treatment you have. In Leilani's case, the choice has been taken from her. Her life has now been held hostage because of this mandate," Fougner told CBS Denver.

"Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list. How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I've got a perfectly good kidney and can save her life?", she added.

In a statement to the news network, UCHealth said: "For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20 percent to more than 30 percent. This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries"

Newsweek has contacted Lutali for comment.

With her religious beliefs taking priority, Lutali is now looking for a new hospital that does not require kidney surgery patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, it's not clear how common these hospitals are. The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and networks in the U.S., told the AP that it didn't have data to share on the issue.

Although none of the COVID-19 vaccines contain any aborted fetal cells, fetal cell lines — cells grown in the lab based on aborted fetal cells collected many years ago — were used in testing during research and production of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) and during the development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In March this year, Catholic bishops in the U.S. called out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as having "additional moral concerns", due to the precise role fetal cells played in the vaccine's development.

Woman in a hospital bed
Stock image showing a woman in a hospital bed. A Christian woman decided to reject taking the COVID-19 vaccine based on her faith, but is facing a huge conundrum now she’s found that her local hospital won’t approve her life-saving kidney transplant surgery until she gets inoculated. iStock