Air Force Veteran Forced to Choose Between Getting Vaccine or Dying

Chad Carswell was barely 18 when insurgents during Operation Enduring Freedom took aim at his KC-135—a giant gas tank with wings—with him and other Air Force crewmen inside.

He described a chaotic scene in an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times and the moment he realized the only way to thwart a deadly and fiery explosion was to try to get to the guns that were locked up in a vehicle 10 feet away.

“It was a pretty intense moment,” recalled Carswell who recounted the days he served at the border of Qatar during U.S. airstrikes on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in America’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Carswell admittedly didn’t expect to find himself in combat just weeks into boot camp. Others newly enlisted left before finishing training, but Carswell said humanitarian work with refugees “made him realize how blessed he was”—and so he stayed in to help.

Sadly, some Americans have not shown Carswell the same compassion. 

When the 39-year-old Air Force veteran went public recently about being turned away by a North Carolina hospital for a desperately needed kidney transplant because he refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine, he was attacked on social media—with some even expressing their hope that he would die.

The good news is as many people posted support for Carswell, enough for the coordinator at the Medical City Fort Worth Transplant Institute in Texas to learn about Carswell’s plight and offered to get him on her facility’s candidate list for a transplant.

The hospital is now going through the process of finding a donor match for Carswell, whose kidneys have slipped down to just 4 percent functionality over the course of time he has searched for a hospital that would accept him without a COVID vaccine. 

The Fort Worth transplant facility’s support is a far cry from the unwavering position the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center took in Winston-Salem, that it would not consider Carswell for a transplant until he was vaccinated against COVID-19.

“They told me either take the vaccine or you’re going to die,” Carswell told The Epoch Times.

Other hospitals have made similar decisions.

In January, Brigham and Women’s Hospital refused 31-year-old Bostonian David Ferguson a heart transplant because he remained unvaccinated.

And earlier, in October, UCHealth removed 56-year-old Colorado Springs resident Leilani Lutali from the waiting list for a kidney transplant because she wouldn’t get a vaccine shot.

Each of the hospitals said the reason for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine was because of the high risk of the already immune-compromised transplant patient contracting the disease without the vaccine.

They also said they were following standard protocols set by national transplant organizations, specifically named the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Both organizations list vaccine manufacturing giant Sanofi, which partnered with both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson to produce the COVID-19 vaccine.

ATS’s corporate sponsors also include vaccine giant Merck, CSL Behring, which partnered AstraZeneca to produce its COVID-19 vaccine, and Novartis, which like Sanofi partnered with Pfizer to produce its COVID-19 vaccine.

In 2019, ATS also provided Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which denied Ferguson his heart transplant for not being vaccinated, an unrestricted grant.

In a joint statement with The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) and American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), ATS stated it strongly recommended that “all eligible children and adult transplant candidates and recipients be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine that is approved or authorized in their jurisdiction.”

It recommends a total of three shots for all organ transplant recipients.

UNOS also released a statement to The Epoch Times emphasizing that transplant hospitals are free to adopt their own policies regarding the vaccine status of patients.

“Patients have the right to seek transplant at an alternate center. However, the requirements may be the same,” Anne Pashke, medical relations specialist for UNOS said in a written statement to The Epoch Times.

Unos receives 10 percent of its funding from federal tax dollars.

The practice of hospitals denying patients life-saving transplants over their vaccine status became so rampant that last month, Virginia Republican Ben Cline introduced a federal bill calling for a ban on all U.S. hospitals from denying anyone who was not considered vaccinated. 

Called the SAVE Act (Stop Arduous Vaccine Enforcement) the bill will also bar hospitals from requiring organ donors to be vaccinated.

Carswell’s attorney Adam Draper of the North Carolina law firm Drager & Wagner, told The Epoch Times that what is so remarkable about Carwell is that his primary concern is not about saving his own life, but preventing hospitals from doing this to someone else.

“He’s a good, good man, he doesn’t deserve scurrilous attacks,” Draper told The Epoch Times.