AFP, published on Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 8:16 AM
“It will change our lives. At least I’m not afraid to die anymore.” At Strasbourg hospital, some 150 heart transplant recipients or patients waiting for a transplant received their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday, a relief for those especially vulnerable patients.
“When we had a heart transplant, we were almost dead, so dying from the Covid behind us would be stupid,” considers Cécile Vincent, with a happy look.
“There, I will finally be able to breathe and tell myself that even if I take it, I will not end up in intensive care,” continues Mulhousian, 46, who came this Saturday morning to the New Civil Hospital (NHC). )) to Strasbourg to receive his second dose of vaccine.
Heart transplant in 2014 at the age of 40 due to a degenerative genetic disease, this mother of an 11-year-old boy remained at home “closed from March 1 to July 10” and, then, in October, to protect themselves as much as possible from Covid-19 contamination.
“If we get vaccinated so quickly, it’s thanks to the medical team,” said Cécile Vincent, who is in charge of community life in the city of Mulhouse.
With heart transplant recipients or waiting for a transplant, patients arrive at three surgical consultation rooms to receive the Modern Vaccine injection.
– 20% to 25% mortality risk –
“We have organized it so that the patients we are monitoring can be vaccinated as quickly as possible,” explains Dr. Eric Epailly, a hospital doctor, medical director of the heart and lung transplant program at Strasbourg University Hospitals (HUS).
The first dose was injected on January 23, a vital problem for patients forced to take lifelong anti-rejection drugs, which weaken them in the face of infections.
“If they catch this virus, they have a 20 to 25 percent risk of mortality,” Dr. Epailly points out, comparing it to 0.4 percent of the general population.
“They live in this permanent anguish. They are patients who have been confined” since the beginning of the epidemic, the doctor adds.
“So, it’ll sting … and that’s it.” Within seconds, Dr. Epailly vaccinated 56-year-old Marc Neef. For three years, this chef has been on a waiting list for a heart-lung transplant.
“As long as I don’t have the transplant, it’s survival,” explains this man who breathes with the help of a machine. Epidemic or not, “I’m more or less confined anyway, I can’t move too much,” he breathes. But vaccination could calm the fears of his relatives who fear infecting him and allow him to see his granddaughter again.
The Cardio-Grafts Association was tasked with contacting people followed by Dr. Epailly’s service to suggest that they come to be vaccinated at the NHC. Some refused.
“We’re here to lend a hand,” explains Elisabeth Aehmig, a highlighter in her hand and a list of patients under her eyes.
– Eliminate anxiety –
Leaning on her colorful cane, Marie-Odile Schwaertzel, 70, walks slowly towards Dr. Epailly.
“The first time it went well, the second time it will be fine too,” he told her, lifting his sweater. He received a heart transplant in 2012 and then a kidney. He has just come out of five weeks of radiation therapy after the discovery of a tumor in his kidney at birth.
From the beginning of the epidemic, he no longer came out, he saw no one. “It was difficult, but hey, that’s right, what do you want. (…) Okay now, I had the second (vaccine), I’m happy,” she said.
He leaves the room with a yellow paper indicating the time of the injection and now has to wait fifteen minutes before leaving, to make sure there are no allergic reactions.
Vaccination “removes some anxiety from them, but of course they will maintain barrier measures until we end this virus,” Dr. Epailly explains.
Behind her mask, Cécile Vincent has little intention of dropping her guard. “I will continue to take care to protect others more than I do,” he remarks. “And that changes everything.”