Supreme Court throws out appeal from unvaccinated woman needing 'life-saving' organ transplant

In 2018, Sheila Annette Lewis learned she would not survive without an organ transplant. She is dying from a terminal illness, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Supreme Court throws out appeal from unvaccinated woman needing 'life-saving' organ transplant
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According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, the Supreme Court of Canada has declined to hear the case of a terminally ill, unvaccinated Alberta woman being denied an organ transplant.

On Thursday, the highest court in Canada informed Sheila Annette Lewis, 57, they would throw out her constitutional legal challenge against Alberta Health Services (AHS), an Alberta hospital and six doctors who removed her from a high-priority organ transplant waiting list because she is unvaccinated.

"Ms. Lewis is deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear her case," said Allison Pejovic, legal counsel for the complainant. 

"She had hoped justice would prevail in the courts for herself and other unvaccinated transplant candidates across Canada. Unfortunately, her constitutional challenge has ended today, while the unscientific Covid-19 vaccine mandate persists with no end in sight," continued Pejovic.

In January, the patient filed her court application asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear her case after her initial challenge at the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal in 2022 proved unsuccessful. Both levels 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 AHS, the Alberta hospital where she would receive her transplant, nor her transplant doctors.

"No one has a right to receive [CENSORED] transplants, and no one is forced to undergo transplantation surgery," said Justice R. Paul Belzil in his decision last year.

"It is illogical for the applicant to freely accept all other preconditions to transplantation and object to one based on alleged medical coercion," he writes. "The Charter has no application to clinical treatment decisions made by the Treating Physicians."

Because this case is under a publication ban, neither the Justice Centre nor the media can reveal 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.

On March 29, Lewis served Alberta Health Services (AHS) with a letter demanding she be reinstated to the high-priority transplant waitlist. She provided her doctors in the Alberta Transplant Program with a privately funded medical report ("Kinexus Report"), establishing that she has strong natural immunity to COVID and has overcome previous infections.

On April 3, one of the transplant physicians informed Lewis that the vaccination requirements to receive an organ transplant would remain. Another physician told her the report said she needed a COVID booster even with natural immunity.

The Justice Centre countered that claim.

"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 Pejovic.

"The refusal to accept [her] natural immunity as an alternative to COVID vaccination and give her life-saving surgery is indefensible and a disgrace."

Lewis asked her physicians nearly a year ago to test her blood for COVID antibodies to establish natural immunity, but they refused her request. Courtesy of private funding, she had her blood analyzed at Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation as part of her enrollment in Kinexus' clinical study entitled "Identification of SARS-CoV-2 Viral Protein Epitopes for Antibodies from Recovered COVID-19 Patients, Healthy and Vaccinated Individuals."

The clinical study found that COVID antibody levels remained consistent for at least two years after initial infection for most participants with natural immunity.

"The Kinexus report found that Ms. Lewis's blood sample (1) 'clearly supports the presence of SARS-CoV-2 immunoreactivity', (2) shows that she was likely infected with SARS-CoV-2 around mid-September 2021, (3) shows that she was infected with SARS-CoV-2 again more recently and has extremely high levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2," reads a Justice Centre statement.

The study received Independent Review Board approval and has monitored over 4,000 COVID patients, including healthy, unvaccinated controls, with its COVID antibody tests.

"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."

In 2018, Lewis learned she would not survive without an organ transplant. She is dying from a terminal illness, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

However, the Justice Centre said Lewis recently filed a separate legal action grounded in 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 is accusing 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 the negligence action. In this separate legal action, she is represented by legal counsel Umar Sheikh at Sheikh Law.

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