Transplant patient denied surgery due to unvaccinated donor

(WKYC Channel 3) Mike Ganim was five days away from life-saving kidney transplant surgery when his wife, Debi, got the devastating news.

The surgery would not happen.

Debi Ganim said they were informed on October 8 that Cleveland Clinic implemented a new safety policy that required both living donors and organ recipients to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Mike is fully vaccinated, but the donor is not.

“It made us feel like we were back to square one,” said Debi. “I’ve been terrified. Sometimes I have my moments that I don’t think about it, but it comes back, and I think, ‘What’s going to happen?'” she said, with her voice cracking with emotion.

Nearly two years ago, Mike learned that his polycystic kidney disease was so advanced, doctors declared that he needed a new kidney.

“’It’s transplant time. No dialysis. We need a transplant, and we need it as soon as possible,’” Debi recalled the doctors telling her.

Hope for a donor began to wane, when doctors suggested that she make her story public. So Debi posted a request on her Facebook page, asking for anyone who might be willing, to be tested as a potential donor. The post got more than 100 shares, and she was humbled by the dozens of messages of support. Friends, relatives, even strangers offered to take the blood test to find out if they were an organ donation match with Mike.

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