Woman who tried to take COVID transplant fight to Supreme Court dies

An Alberta woman who tried to take her fight over COVID vaccine requirements for organ transplants all the way to the Supreme Court has died.

The former lawyer for Sheila Annette Lewis confirmed her death Friday.

"Ms. Lewis was a real true believer in fighting for personal rights and freedoms," said Allison Pejovic, who was in touch with her former client's son.

Lewis was diagnosed with a terminal disease in 2018 and was told she would not survive unless she received an organ transplant.

She was placed on a transplant wait list in 2020, but was informed a year later she would need to get the COVID-19 vaccine first.

Lewis said taking the vaccine would offend her conscience and argued the requirement violated her Charter rights.

The case was dismissed by an Alberta court, which said the Charter has no application to clinical treatment decisions. The Supreme Court also turned down her application for a hearing.

Pejovic remembered Lewis as someone with strong beliefs.

"She was very strong and very principled," Pejovic said.

But Pejovic said away from the media glare, Lewis was more interested in other people than court battles.

"Whenever I would speak with her, even after our case was finished, she was always interested in what other people were doing. She had a very kind heart."

There is a publication ban on the doctors' identities, the organ involved and the location of the transplant program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 25, 2023.

The Canadian Press