North Carolina man would rather 'die free' than get COVID vaccine needed for life-saving transplant

A North Carolina man who said a hospital refused to carry out a kidney transplant because he's unvaccinated against COVID-19 is willing to "die free" rather than comply with the vaccine requirement. 

"I was born free. I will die free. I’m not changing my mind," Chad Carswell told WSOC. "I’ve had conversations with my family and everybody that’s close to me. They know where I stand, and it’ll not be a situation that occurs that I will choose to change my mind on this topic."

Carswell is a double amputee who has had previous heart surgeries. Now, he is in need of a kidney transplant due to it operating at 4% and requiring him to get dialysis three times a week. 

His friends and local businesses in the Burke County area have raised funds for the surgery, and more than 100 people have offered one of their own kidneys to the man. 


But Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem informed Carswell he and whoever donates a kidney must be fully vaccinated to proceed with the transplant. 

"He said, ‘The last thing we need to talk about is your vaccination status,'" Carswell recalled, referring to a hospital conversation. "And that’s when I politely told him there was nothing really to talk about it, it wasn’t up for debate [and] that I wasn’t getting it. Then, he told me, ‘You know you’ll die if you don’t get it.’ And I said, ‘I’m willing to die.’" 

Carswell said he’s had the coronavirus twice before and believes getting the vaccine should be a personal choice, not a requirement.  

"Without [a transplant], there’s no telling how much longer I’ll still be here. I have to have a kidney to prolong my life," he said. 

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital said its policy follows health standards implemented across the U.S. and was put into practice to protect its patients. 

"The reason it is recommended is to provide protection for the patient. Transplant patients are at high risk for severe illness if they don’t have preexisting immunity prior to being transplanted," the hospital said in a statement, according to WSOC. 

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Carswell is looking at other hospitals in the area to see if they will carry out the procedure. 

An unvaccinated 31-year-old father of two in Boston, DJ Ferguson, was denied a heart transplant surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital this month despite being at the top of the list to receive the surgery. His family told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Wednesday that DJ is fighting for his life after he underwent an hours-long emergency open-heart surgery and is in need of the transplant. 

"He got led down a path where they had to stop doing procedures where they said he was qualified nonetheless for the heart transplant," the patient's father, David Ferguson, said. "But he had to get the vaccine in order to get that transplant. 

"He’s deteriorated so much so quickly that they had to resort to open-heart surgery and doing the LVAD [left ventricular assist device] mechanical pump. So now my boy has a pump, he’s in recovery. He went through seven hours of surgery."

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