The Duke University children’s hospital is denying a young girl a kidney transplant because she has not received a COVID vaccine, her family says.
Yulia Hicks, 14, has a genetic kidney disorder that requires a kidney transplant, but according to her family, Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina, is refusing to put her on the kidney wait list because she is unvaccinated.
Yulia’s adoptive parents recorded a phone call with Duke Health in which the family was told that doctors would not do the kidney transplant unless Yulia received a COVID vaccine.
“I can’t require you to do anything. I can recommend these things, but if you don’t follow our recommendations, then Yulia can’t be a transplant candidate here,” a Duke Health kidney specialist reportedly told the Hicks in the phone call.
“Being unvaccinated to the CDC recommended vaccinations based on her age is part of that,” the kidney specialist added.
Her family says Yulia has already contracted COVID and recovered, but doctors told them Yulia’s natural immunity was not enough, according to a recorded call.
“The virus has continued to mutate and so the natural immunity is not as good as if you had natural immunity plus vaccination,” one doctor said in the phone call.
Some studies have shown that natural immunity can be superior to the COVID vaccine. One recent study also suggested that the COVID vaccine could be to blame for certain organ transplant recipients rejecting their new organs.
Contacted for comment, a representative for Duke Health initially told The Daily Wire that they would check on the situation but failed to provide a comment by the deadline.
The Hicks family has 11 children including Yulia, who they adopted from Ukraine in January 2021. Yulia stayed with two other U.S. families before the Hicks, who are working hard to give her a stable, loving home.
Yulia’s condition requires daily peritoneal dialysis, which her family has done with her at home every night for over a year. They say that they have been working with Duke for the last two years since her dialysis is through the hospital.
“They tell us all the time she’s a model patient,” Hicks told The Daily Wire. “We do everything they tell us to do, really. The only thing we won’t do is get this COVID vaccine.”
“That’s why we feel like it’s kind of a power struggle because it’s like, you told us it was a recommendation. Recommendation means I get to choose. But you’re denying me because of your recommendation,” Hicks added.
On Friday, Hicks appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and said they are hoping a medical center will come forward and offer to perform the transplant without the vaccination requirement.
“There’s no sympathy whatsoever from any of them. It’s just strong-arming us, just give her the vaccine and then you’ll get the transplant,” Hicks told Carlson.
Tucker Carlson speaks with a mother whose daughter was denied a kidney transplant by Duke University Hospital because she hadn’t been vaccinated against Covid-19.
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The family has also retained an attorney, but her mother said they cannot have Yulia’s life hanging in the balance with litigation, so they are not sure what legal moves they will make.
Hicks said that while their family no longer has faith in the doctors at Duke to perform Yulia’s transplant, they still want the policy changed for others.
“This is not just us that’s facing this. We’ve been given a microphone for whatever reason,” Hicks told The Daily Wire. “It’s not just for us. It’s to change the policy so that other people don’t suffer the same thing that we’re suffering.”
Hicks said the experience has taken an emotional toll on her because the doctors “bully” her more than they do her military husband. She now sends her husband with Yulia to attend most of their appointments.
“We really try to shield our children a lot from it. We just don’t want them to have to carry our burden,” Hicks said.
“We’re both veterans. We fought for freedom and we’re not even able to experience it right now,” she continued.
The family says they do not have extra funds to travel out of state to another hospital for the kidney transplant, so they have set up a fundraiser to help with the costs as well as a website to share updates on Yulia.
“We have had an outpouring of help already. We’re so grateful for people who have stepped forward,” Hicks said.