The perilous journey of Sheila Annette Lewis, 58, to receive a life-saving transplant has taken a turn for the better after a U.S. hospital agreed to perform the surgery. However, it comes at great expense.
Lewis told True North a Texas hospital would perform the transplant if she came up with $600,000 USD. "The only thing we have is hope," she said.
After the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed her appeal due to her vaccination status — following unsuccessful challenges at the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal last year — Lewis hopes to fundraise the costs for treatment abroad on GiveSendGo.
She must pay $100,000 USD up front to secure costs for testing to ensure a prerequisite of good health before being placed on the donor list. Lewis must fork up the remaining $500,000 USD to get the surgery if approved.
As of Thursday afternoon, the GiveSendGo fundraiser is just shy of $38,000.
Each level of the court found the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Bill of Rights did not apply to vaccine policies developed by Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Alberta hospital where she would receive her transplant, nor her transplant doctors.
In 2018, Lewis learned she would not survive without an organ transplant because she is dying from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal illness.
"I'm not going to go away," Lewis told Rebel News. "I have to fight for my life."
"I don't want to die. I have a reason to live," she said. "I have grandchildren, and I have children."
On March 29, Lewis served AHS with a letter demanding she is reinstated to the high-priority transplant waitlist. They denied her access to the transplant list despite Lewis proving her natural immunity to COVID through a privately funded medical report ("Kinexus Report").
"The transplant program team, AHS, and the hospital ought to accept Lewis's natural immunity to COVID as an alternative to COVID vaccination and reinstate her to the high-priority transplant list immediately," said Allison Pejovic, a litigator at the Justice Centre.
"The refusal to accept [her] natural immunity as an alternative to COVID vaccination and give her life-saving surgery is indefensible and a disgrace."
In November, Alberta's Health Ministry said transplant programs must ensure the best possible outcomes for a donated organ, including being vaccinated against COVID, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pneumococcal pneumonia, meningitis, influenza, and more.
"There is no principled medical or scientific reason to continue to deny Lewis a life-saving organ transplant," opined Pejovic. "She is protected from COVID as she has had it twice."
On behalf of Lewis, the Justice Centre filed separate legal action accusing negligence against AHS, the undisclosed Alberta hospital, and the unnamed transplant doctors due to their decision to remove her from the high-priority transplant list.
Lewis accused them of 'medical malpractice' and will ask the court at an upcoming injunction hearing to grant an immediate reinstatement to the high-priority transplant list pending the result of her legal action.
Details on the names of the doctors, the hospital, the city where the transplant program is located, or the name of the organ Lewis needs for life-saving surgery cannot be disclosed to the public. This case remains under a publication ban.