GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The family of a 17-year-old girl who is now living in West Michigan after being adopted from Ukraine last year says she has not been able to get on a kidney transplant list because of their refusal to get several vaccines, citing their strongly held religious beliefs. They have now filed a lawsuit against Spectrum Health, trying to get them to waive their vaccine requirements so the teen can get on the pediatric transplant list before she turns 18 in July.
Jenna Campau and her family have 3 biological children, but also adopted a boy at the age of 6 from an orphanage in Ukraine. He is now 19-years-old.
Several years ago, the whole family traveled back to Ukraine to see the country and make some shared memories together. They ended up back at the orphanage he was adopted from, and there they met a young girl.
Fast forward several years later, and the family was able to adopt that girl, now at the age of 17.
"That was clear back in 2012, but the door didn't open for us to adopt her until seven years later," Campau told FOX 17 Thursday.
“She's very caring, and has all kinds of hopes and goals.”
Shortly after arriving at her new home in Allegan County, the teenager was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease— already having one of her kidneys removed as a young child, when some early problems started to arise.
“She started her twice weekly dialysis treatments by this past August,” said Campau.
They began seeing specialists at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids.
"We started a conversation very early with the specialists about pursuing getting her on a kidney transplant list, and they stated that their goal was to get her on the list by the end of 2021," she explained.
But they would very soon run into some serious roadblocks with that plan of action.
“There's an examination that has to be done, a medical evaluation they call it, before you can even be placed on the list," explained attorney Brian Festa, who is also the co-founder of We the Patriots USA.
"And they had denied her simply because she has refused certain vaccines based on her sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Campau says the hospital group was requiring the teenager to get several vaccines— including for COVID-19, HPV, the flu, and polio.
“I’ve had some adverse reactions myself, in my own health journey,“ Campau said in regards to their specific reasons they are against vaccines.
"And I became aware that, for example, in the research and the development... of these things, aborted fetal cell lines are involved, and we just felt that that completely went against our religious conscience."
So, with help from Festa's non-profit called We the Patriots USA, Jenna filed a lawsuit against Spectrum Health, trying to get a court order that would allow her daughter's transplant process to continue, without getting the vaccinations they are currently requiring.
Festa adding, “we feel very strongly that that is a violation of not only civil rights, but human rights... being denied basic medical care, life saving medical care."
FOX 17 reached out to Spectrum Health to get their take on what is happening.
A spokesperson said, "At Spectrum Health, the health and safety of our patients are of utmost concern. Due to patient privacy concerns, we are unable to discuss specific patient situations."
The case was just recently filed in federal court, here in the western district of Michigan.
We the Patriots USA is currently fundraising via their website to help fund Jenna and her family's legal fight.
You can donate HERE if you would like to help.
We will provide updates as the case makes its way through the court system.