She was taken off a transplant list for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Maybe it was a blessing, she said


MUNCY – Lycoming County woman with stage 5 kidney disease says Geisinger told her she wouldn’t be eligible for a transplant because she wouldn’t be vaccinated for COVID-19 may have been a blessing disguised.

“I’m in a much better position,” Sherry Eyer Breen, 40, of Muncy said Friday.

She said she now has appointments with four transplant centers in Pennsylvania, all of which say they don’t require her to receive COVID-19 vaccines.

The first appointment is Thursday at the University of Pennsylvania Transplant Center Hospital, she said. The others are all scheduled before December 22.

Breen waited nearly seven years to top Geisinger’s list of kidney transplants before learning she was ineligible because she had refused the vaccine.

“I felt like the rug was ripped from under my feet,” she said.

She had done everything Geisinger asked for, she said, adding: “I worked really hard for this.”

She said she was told she was on Geisinger’s inactive list, but would regain her active status if the vaccination requirement was dropped.

In the meantime, she will be on the lists of the other four centers, to which she was referred by Geisinger. That, she said, could make finding a kidney easier.

She credits Dr Maria Bermudez, her nephrologist at Geisinger, for making this possible. “She has been wonderful,” she said.

The groundwork done at Geisinger will keep it from going to the bottom of the list of transplants at other centers, Breen said.

Although she has O-positive blood, it’s hard to find a match because her body has built immunities against treatments for other health issues, she explained.

A tick bite in 2000 caused her to contract Lyme disease and babesiosis, an infection of red blood cells.

She was treated with antibiotics for 18 months, during which time she suffered from liver failure, heart problems, blood clots, three unsuccessful pregnancies and hearing loss in her left ear.

Breen was in fairly good health between 2005 and 2013, when he was diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease.

She was told it would be years before she needed dialysis, but the disease progressed faster than expected, she said.

After feeling weak, Breen was tested in December 2015 and learned he had passed stage 5.

She has been on dialysis 12 hours a day at home since January 2016, most of the time when she is asleep, she said.

“This is the closest thing to a transplant that I can get,” she said. She continues to work as a real estate agent, although “my schedule is a little different” because of dialysis, she said.

When it came to getting the coronavirus shot, Breen said he was told to hang on. After researching her situation and the product, she said she decided there was too much risk involved.

She contracted COVID-19 last November and said, “I’m still not completely back to normal. I’m still trying to be healed.

Her husband Andy and sons Ross, 16, and Stiles, 14, also had COVID-19 but no one had to be hospitalized, she said. They had been vaccinated, she said.

Despite her kidney condition, Breen remains positive. “I refuse to be really bothered about this,” she said. “Every day that I wake up I think I’m here a different day.”


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