A senior media relations consultant for the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has confirmed that “the science changed,” resulting in a stealth update to a COVID-19 FAQ document stipulating double vaccination for its organ transplant program.
The change appears to have occurred mere days before the medical discrimination of Garnet Harper, an otherwise healthy, young 35-year-old married father of five that was denied a referral for a kidney transplant by LHSC via email sent by transplant coordinator Peggy Kittmer.
Garnet’s wife Meghan Harper previously joined Rebel News to discuss the situation faced by her husband in light of the aftermath of his preventable death.
Meghan asserts that Garnet was an otherwise perfect candidate for organ donation, with two of his own brothers volunteering as donors. Before his untimely death, Meghan was asked if Garnet wanted to donate his organs to the very same organization that he was being denied referral to.
Prior to the publication of that report, LHSC went behind the scenes and updated their online policy and FAQ documents sometime after a media request was sent by Rebel News.
The old form read:
Multi Organ Transplant Program in London requires that you have at least two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine before being listed for transplant and encourages you to get 1 or 2 booster shots when offered to you. If you are on the waiting list and have not yet been vaccinated, you will be placed on hold until you can get 2 doses of the vaccine. You should be vaccinated (2 doses) at least one week before your transplant and further doses given after your transplant. It is better to have booster vaccines given before you are given anti-rejection drugs to improve the protection. Exceptions to required vaccination are considered and you should discuss this with your Transplant Doctor.”
Every recipient is unique and there may be cases where vaccination is not possible. Your transplant team will consider your situation and medical exemptions may be allowed. These exemptions are the same as those that the Ontario Ministry of Health has listed. Other exemptions include recipients who are too sick at this time to be vaccinated and need the transplant immediately. Children do not need to be vaccinated to be listed for transplant.
Yet Kittmer’s email said that there were no medical or surgical exemptions to receiving the vaccine. Furthermore, there would have been a point where Garnet would have been too sick to get vaccinated and would have needed transplant immediately, so why was he not considered under that stipulation?
The justification for Kittmer’s email remains a source of unanswered questions with LHSC.
In an updated version, the FAQ now states:
Yes. The vaccine will help protect you from more severe illness if you get COVID-19. If you do not get your vaccine until after your transplant, the chance of getting a good vaccine response after transplant is much lower. This is because you will be on anti-rejection drugs that lower your immune response. Like most other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine is much more effective if received before transplant. It is recommended:
1) All patients receive a Health Canada approved COVID-19 vaccination before being put on a transplant waiting list;
2) Patient’s close contacts should be fully vaccinated;
3) In the case of living donation, donors receive vaccination against COVID-19
There is no more wording of a requirement; rather, a recommendation. Likewise, the new document doesn’t stipulate exemptions — at all.
When senior media relations consultant Steve Robinson was asked about some of the particulars around this policy, he repeatedly interrupted and cut off questions from being adequately framed.
Robinson wanted to clarify that Peggy Kittmer was not responsible for the policy that denied Garnet’s referral and said that there was a committee involved, but was unable to name the committee or those who comprise it.
He states that the FAQ document was not updated until after Rebel News’ media request because of an oversight — reassuring that the hospital circulated the updated document internally to patients sometime in May of 2023.
Robinson was unable to ascertain the exact date of the policy change, which is stipulated online as being May 19.
That’s three days before Garnet Harper succumb to complications of prolonged dialysis — his only hope at life after being denied a kidney transplant referral.
Due to Robinson’s inability to answer direct questions, Rebel News again reached out with specifics about the committee involved in Kittmer’s front-facing email response, including the role of the visible author of the document in question, Corinne Weernink.
Robinson replied that LHSC will not be responding to further inquiries on this topic:
The secret committee responsible for the referral denial will remain undisclosed and all other relevant questions unanswered.
How’s that for accountability and transparency from the socialized medical system we all pay into?