A terminally-ill Alberta woman who was removed from an organ transplant list because she was unvaccinated against COVID-19 continued to be denied access to the medical procedure even after obtaining an independent medical report showing that she has natural immunity, said the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).
Sheila Annette Lewis has been challenging the constitutionality of the vaccine requirement put in place by Alberta Health Services (AHS) for transplant candidates.
On March 28, Lewis provided her doctors in the Alberta transplant program with a privately-funded medical report, which established that she has strong natural immunity to COVID-19 and had overcome previous COVID-19 infections, the JCCF said in a press release issued April 18. The report was provided by the Kinexus Bioinformatics Corporation on March 24.
The Kinexus report said Lewis’s blood sample “clearly supports the presence of SARS-CoV-2 immunoreactivity.” It also noted that she was likely infected with the disease around mid-September 2021 and was reinfected again more recently, and thus has “extremely high levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.”
Lewis asked her physicians to test her blood for COVID-19 antibodies nearly a year ago to see if she was naturally immune, and they refused to do so, according to JCCF.
After Lewis provided her Kinexus report, one of her transplant physicians informed her on April 3 that despite the test results, “nothing had changed in regards to healthcare policies pertaining to COVID-19 vaccination requirements” and that she would still need to receive the vaccines before the hospital would give her an organ transplant, the JCCF said in its press release.
“[The physician] told her that the Kinexus Report concluded that even with natural immunity, she would need a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. However, the report does not say anything about Ms. Lewis needing a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine to maintain immunity to Covid-19,” JCCF said.
The Epoch Times reached out to the AHS in regard to Lewis’s case, but didn’t hear back immediately.
Alberta lifted all COVID-19-related mandatory public health restrictions on June 14, 2022.
A guideline from the Alberta government, listing a number of “routine immunizations” that adult organ transplant candidates are required to receive prior to a transplant, says patients should have a “primary series” of three doses of COVID-19 vaccines, while booster shots are needed “at least 6 months after primary series or previous booster dose.” The guideline, published on March 20, is a revision of immunization principles for transplant recipients issued on June 1, 2022.
JCCF said it has sent a demand letter to AHS, the Alberta hospital, and Lewis’s transplant physicians, “requesting that they accept her now established natural immunity to Covid-19 as an alternative to Covid-19 vaccination and reinstate her to the high-priority transplant waitlist by April 21, 2023.”
“The transplant program team, AHS, and the hospital ought to accept Ms. Lewis’s natural immunity to Covid-19 as an alternative to Covid-19 vaccination and reinstate her to the high priority transplant list immediately,” Allison Pejovic, Lewis’s legal counsel, said in the JCCF press release.
“There is no principled medical or scientific reason to continue to deny Ms. Lewis a life-saving organ transplant.”
Lewis previously took AHS, an Alberta hospital where she would receive her transplant, and six transplant program physicians to court, but was unsuccessful at both the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench and the Alberta Court of Appeal in 2022, JCCF said. Both courts found that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Bill of Rights do not apply to the COVID-19 vaccine policies developed by the AHS and other defendants.
Lewis has filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada, asking it to hear her appeal. The country’s highest court has not yet decided whether it will do so, JCCF said.