CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A piece of a national conversation surrounding organ transplants and the COVID-19 vaccine is playing out in Charlottesville.

A man claims the University of Virginia Health System is denying him a kidney because he didn't get the COVID shot.

It sparked discussions that led to national news articles, some passionate responses, and GoFundMes that have racked up thousands of dollars.

The patient at the center of it is Shamgar Connors, who says he has stage five kidney failure. Connors says he'd been on the transplant list for three years.

He uploaded a video to YouTube on Jan. 6, which shows a phone recording between him and a UVA doctor. In the recording, the doctor says to be active on the transplant list, Connors would have to get the COVID vaccine.

Connors responded that he'd rather die in the recording.

"I was just trying to prove the point that you're not going to convince me to get this [vaccine] ever. There's nothing on the planet that you're ever going to convince me to say why I should get this," Connors said.

When asked why he didn't want the vaccine, Connors said nobody could guarantee with certainty that he wouldn't have any adverse effects from it.

He isn't the only patient being denied an organ by refusing to meet a vaccine requirement.

"There are like, a ton of people writing to me saying that this is happening to them because they won't get the vaccine where they live," Connors said.

While a UVA Health spokesperson said they couldn't comment on individual cases, they said the demand for organs is far greater than the supply, so every recipient is evaluated to see if they're a good candidate.

"Patients may not be a candidate for a transplant if they have another life-threatening disease or condition that would not improve with a transplant," the spokesperson's statement read in part. "Transplant patients who have been immunized have better outcomes and lower mortality rates than those transplant patients who have not received the vaccine."

In other words, the hospital system said the odds of success are much higher among people who are vaccinated, which is why it's one of several requirements to be on the transplant list.

As for Connors, he's still on the list but inactive. He says he's currently stable with his dialysis treatments.

Full statement from UVA Health:

For patient privacy reasons, UVA Health cannot discuss any individual patient’s transplant status. We can provide some background about the evaluation process for patients in need of a transplant and information on the benefits of vaccination for transplant patients.
 
Unfortunately, the need for transplants far exceeds the availability of donated organs – at any given time, tens of thousands of Americans are on a transplant waiting list. Because of that shortage, every transplant center carefully evaluates every potential recipient based on a wide range of factors to ensure they are a good candidate for transplant surgery. For example, patients may not be a candidate for a transplant if they have another life-threatening disease or condition that would not improve with a transplant. Transplant teams also evaluate a patient’s ability to manage their health and follow their care team’s instructions both before and after their transplant.
 
There is significant evidence showing the benefits of vaccination for transplant patients:
 
  *   Patients have superior protection against COVID-19 if the vaccine is administered before the transplant occurs.
  *   Some patients do NOT develop any immunity at all if the COVID-19 vaccine is administered after the transplant occurs.
  *   Transplant patients who have been immunized have better outcomes and lower mortality rates than those transplant patients who have not received the vaccine.
 
UVA Health is in the process of updating its evaluation criteria to address COVID-19 vaccination status as part of the individualized assessment we complete with respect to each transplant candidate. As the pandemic continues, UVA Health also continues to evaluate alternative treatments and therapies for patients in need of a transplant and continually assesses the COVID positivity rate in the community to ensure patients can be transplanted safely.