Sheila Annette Lewis challenged AHS and her transplant doctors' COVID vaccine policy in an appeal heard by video conference on Thursday, October 20, 2022. They said that unvaccinated Albertans could not receive life-saving transplants because of their vaccination status.
Lewis suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic, progressive lung disease causing scar tissue to build up in the lungs, which makes the lungs unable to transport oxygen into the bloodstream effectively. She received advice that she would not survive unless she received an organ transplant for her terminal condition.
Lewis contended that the COVID vaccine mandate infringed on her Charter-protected rights of conscience, life, liberty and security of the person, and equality rights. However, the Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court that the Charter did not apply to policies on COVID vaccines.
This week, she filed a court application asking the Supreme Court of Canada to hear her case against AHS and six doctors who removed her from a high-priority organ transplant waiting list because she refused to take the COVID vaccine.
Lewis' application focuses on the national importance of her case. She hopes to convince the highest court in Canada to hear her case and make definitive findings on the following:
She petitioned the Supreme Court of Canada to clarify provincial healthcare providers' obligations under the Charter to patients within their provincial healthcare programs, the role of the Charter and provincial bills of rights legislation in the healthcare sphere, and whether the Charter protects dying Canadians' rights to life without a condition of taking an experimental drug that has caused injury and death.
She had renewed hope for survival when Premier Danielle Smith announced on November 29, 2022, that she was seeking a second medical opinion regarding the COVID vaccine policy for transplant candidates. After that announcement, the transplant team contacted Lewis and told her she had ten days to get the COVID vaccines before they removed her from the transplant program entirely.
The Justice Centre said even if Smith removed the vaccine policy for transplant candidates, without having to start over and re-apply to the transplant program, their client would be ineligible for a transplant. But Lewis does not have time to waste; her health is deteriorating daily.
Due to a Court Order, this case is under a publication ban. The Justice Centre could not 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.
"Ms. Lewis is nearing the end of the legal road," states Ms. Allison Pejovic, legal counsel for Ms. Lewis. "She has made the difficult choice to stand against an unethical and unscientific vaccine mandate which has come between her and her chance to survive. We hope the Supreme Court of Canada is interested in hearing this very important case."
But, there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court of Canada will agree to hear her case. Each year the Supreme Court considers an average of between 500 to 600 applications for leave to appeal and hears 65 to 80 appeals.