EASTLAKE, Ohio (WOIO) – Imagine being in desperate need of a kidney transplant and forced to wait for more than a year and a half to find a perfect match? Then just days before the life-saving surgery you learn the hospital has canceled it because your donor did not get a COVID vaccine.
That’s what happened to an Eastlake man whose transplant is desperately needed, and his wife says it’s simply not fair.
Debi Ganim hopes the Cleveland Clinic’s administration will reconsider and move forward with the transplant as scheduled on Wednesday, October 13th.
“I would tell them my husband’s entire story and beg them to give my husband’s life back,” she said.
The Eastlake wife and mother couldn’t fight back the tears as she talked about the telephone call her husband received from the Cleveland Clinic on Friday.
His donor, Sue George of Hudson, was tested and determined to be a perfect match, but because of new safety rules at the hospital the transplant can’t go forward because she’s not vaccinated against COVID and chooses not to be,
“She (Sue George) told them all along she’s not vaccinated and asked if this was going to be a problem? The answer was no,” said Ganim. “The answer was no because Mike is vaccinated and that was more important.”
Mike Ganim, 52, who was diagnosed with hereditary polycystic kidney disease at 27, has kidneys completely covered in cysts and suffers from debilitating pain.
His wife tells said she feels this new COVID-19 rule is gambling with her husband’s life and is robbing them of the joy they had when they learned there was finally a match.
“I think about how emotional I was then, and I get emotional again because it was the only… sign of hope we’ve had,” she said.
The Cleveland Clinic issued a statement on the situation that reads in part:
“For the living donor, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of a surgical operation is crucial. For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person’s immune response. Serious complications of COVID-19 are most likely to develop in those individuals who have weakened immune systems, as their body has a reduced ability to fight and recover from infections.
“If it’s because of the risk of COVID, I appreciate that,” said Ganim. “But there are people working in the building (The Cleveland Clinic) who are not vaccinated. So why does it matter that she’s not vaccinated?”
The Eastlake family has nothing but praise for the doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, but Ganim worries the hospital’s new rule could be gambling with her husband’s life.
“I became a widow 29 years ago, and I got remarried to him 19 years ago,” she said. “I don’t want to be a widow again.”
On Monday the Ganim family says the Cleveland Clinic is supposed to offer them another option or solution to help the transplant move forward.
That could mean the donor getting the kidney removed at another hospital.
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