About 100 protesters gathered outside Brigham and Women’s Hospital Sunday afternoon in support of a Massachusetts man whose family has said he was dropped from its heart transplant waitlist because he hasn’t been vaccinated for COVID-19.
David Ferguson Jr., who is known as D.J., has been hospitalized since November, according to an online fund-raiser. His mother, Tracey Ferguson, has said he has been suffering complications from atrial fibrillation and deteriorating heart failure and has been treated at hospitals around Boston.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital has told Ferguson that he was ineligible for a transplant because he was not vaccinated against COVID-19, according to his family. Ferguson’s father, David, told WBZ last month that vaccination against COVID-19 went against his son’s “basic principles. He doesn’t believe in it.”
Sunday’s protest was organized by family members, who said they planned to “peacefully march for medical freedom,” according to a Facebook post for the event.
“Have A Heart was formed to offer support for DJ Ferguson and anyone else impacted by medical discrimination. February is also National Heart Month, let’s flood the street wearing red and black in support of our cause!” organizers wrote on Facebook.
Late last month, Ferguson underwent open-heart surgery, and surgeons inserted a device that will mechanically pump his heart until a donor becomes available, according to ABC News.
A hospital spokesman Sunday declined to comment on Ferguson’s case, citing federal patient privacy laws.
In a statement, the hospital said the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for transplant patients is based on the “best available evidence” related to immunocompromised patients who are at risk for COVID-19 infection following transplantation. It pointed to the hospital website for more information.
The American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, and the International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation, recommended in November that all eligible transplant candidates and recipients be vaccinated against COVID-19, STAT reported last month.
On Sunday, protesters gathered on both sides of Francis Street. At times, hospital workers wearing blue scrubs and masks could be seen in windows peering down at the demonstration.
Many of the protesters wore red, white, and blue, and some waved US flags. A few others held yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
Rayla Campbell, a candidate for the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office, led protesters in chants outside the hospital Sunday, including “My Body, My Choice.”
At one point, Ferguson appeared at a hospital window and acknowledged the crowd, who cheered him on.
Some held signs supporting Ferguson; others criticized COVID-19 requirements. “Say no to forced vaccines,” a protester wrote on a sign. Another carried a sign with the message: “No vax mandate.”
Ferguson’s father thanked the crowd for their efforts before expressing his support for former president Donald Trump. The elder Ferguson also said he supported truck drivers who are protesting vaccine mandates in Canada, and he called for larger protests in Washington D.C.
Jessica Rinaldi and Brittany Bowker of the Globe staff contributed to this report.