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Edmonton doctors agree to temporarily lift Covid vaccine requirement for transplant waitlist patient

WETASKIWIN, ALBERTA: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms was originally scheduled to appear in court on December 7, 2021, on behalf of a terminally ill client, Ms. Annette Lewis. Ms. Lewis, aged 57, is seeking a court injunction to prevent Alberta Health Services (AHS), the University of Alberta Hospital (U of A), and six physicians from the Lung Transplant Program, from removing her from the lung transplant waitlist because she decided against getting the new Covid-19 vaccine.

Ms. Lewis has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which affects both of her lungs, and has been ill for over two and a half years. She has already qualified as a good candidate for a lung transplant by the physicians at the U of A Lung Transplant Program and is on a high priority waitlist for a double-lung transplant. However, in June 2021, those same physicians threatened to remove Ms. Lewis, whose lung capacity is below 40%, from the transplant list because she has chosen not to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Without this transplant, Ms. Lewis will die.

On September 2, 2021, the Justice Centre wrote a legal demand letter to one of the physician members of the Lung Transplant Program, regarding the group’s decision to require all patients waiting for a double-lung transplant to take the Covid vaccine. The letter demanded that the Lung Transplant Program team exempt Ms. Lewis from this requirement. Ms. Lewis never received a response to that letter and the Lung Transplant Program physicians continued to request that she take the Covid-19 vaccine.

Having to choose between her life or an experimental injection which she is afraid to take has caused great emotional and physical stress to Ms. Lewis.

The Justice Centre subsequently filed a court action for an injunction to prevent the Lung Transplant Program Team from removing Ms. Lewis from the transplant list, and from enforcing the requirement that she receive the Covid-19 vaccine prior to her lung transplant surgery.

Prior to the December 7, 2021 court appearance for the Injunction Application, an agreement was reached between the parties. A Consent Order was entered in court on December 7 stating that until the Injunction is argued in court and the judge renders a decision, Ms. Lewis will not be taken off the transplant list, and the physicians in the Lung Transplant Program will not deny her a transplant solely because she has not received the Covid-19 vaccine. This means that for the first time since March 2021, when Ms. Lewis was first informed of the Covid-19 vaccine requirement, it will be lifted temporarily, and she will be able to receive a lung transplant if a compatible set of lungs becomes available.

“Ms. Lewis is elated knowing that at least for the next few weeks until this matter is decided in court, she has a chance to live,” says Allison Pejovic, Justice Centre Staff Lawyer. “She has renewed hope as she has been waiting in the high priority transplant recipient list since March 2021 for life-saving surgery.”

Adds Ms. Pejovic, "This development is a good first step in protecting Ms. Lewis’ right to bodily autonomy and informed consent. We move forward with the goal of convincing the court to agree and ultimately order that her lung transplant surgery cannot be delayed because Ms. Lewis wants to remain Covid-19 vaccine free in the absence of long-term safety studies on these new inoculations.”

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