Top Anti-Vaxxer’s Unhinged Quest for Unvaccinated Blood Leads Him to Mexico
Del Bigtree desperately needed a transfusion. But first he had to track down the blood of a donor who hadn’t been vaccinated—and his doctor friend in Mexico was ready to oblige.
After his family’s year-old puppy inexplicably died in the backyard, anti-vax activist Del Bigtree wondered if there might be some connection with a mystery illness that had struck him a few days before.
“So, was he poisoned?” Bigtree remembered wondering about the puppy and therefore maybe himself.
The racing heart and shortness of breath and fatigue that he was experiencing raised another possibility that was not without irony, given that he has been actively perpetuating untruths that endanger us all in the midst of the present pandemic.
“Well, I must have, like, COVID,” he recalled telling himself in mid-May. “I mean, that is like what COVID is, right?”
He tested for COVID-19. The result was negative.
“But I was thinking, you know what, maybe it’s a bad test,” he remembered.
He recounted the tale of his illness in the June 4 episode of his weekly anti-vaccine podcast, The Highwire. He had started as a middling television producer and made a second career spinning dangerous delusions that left thousands of children needlessly prey to potentially devastating illnesses. The effort turned particularly deadly for those of all ages during the pandemic.
“I mean, what are the odds? I’m sitting here in the middle of the conversation of my lifetime and I’m having these, you know, symptoms that people are talking about,” he said. “And I’m worried about the spike protein.”
He contacted “some doctor friends” to get “the Ivermectin protocol.” The FDA has approved use of the drug to treat head lice and some parasitic worms, but not COVID. The anti-vaxxers insist they know better, or at least until they try it.
“I started that protocol and sort of ran that for the week,” he recalled. “It helped a little bit, [but] I wasn’t feeling that much better.”
He in the meantime hit the road, taking his anti-vax message to Connecticut and Minnesota, placing others at risk of contracting the illness that now left him fearful even after a negative test. He was back home in Austin, Texas, by May 17.
“I was really, really not feeling well at all at that point,” he recalled.
Bigtree decided to see a cardiologist, who did some blood tests as well as checked his heart. He was getting to the point where he had trouble walking across a room, even just standing, when the cardiologist called.
“Saying, ‘Del, you need to get to an emergency room immediately,’” Bigtree remembered.
The cardiologist said Bigtree’s hemoglobin was alarmingly low. Hemoglobin being the protein in the blood that carries the oxygen from the lungs.
“What am I going to do?” Bigtree said on the podcast. “Obviously, I need blood transfusions, which goes against so much of what I try to do with my health, taking other people’s blood.”
He had a primary worry that only an anti-vaxxer could have.
“Most importantly, I was thinking, ‘How the heck am I going to know whether or not the blood I’m getting that I need has been vaccinated?’” Bigtree recalled.
Blood banks ask those who have received a live virus vaccine to wait two weeks before donating. But they express no concerns at all regarding those who have received MRNA vaccines such as Moderna and Pfizer. And no records are kept regarding what vaccines, if any, particular donors have received.
The reason for this is that the blood of the vaccinated poses no added threat to recipients. Only unfounded fears to the contrary kept Bigtree from just getting a needed transfusion at the nearest facility.
At least on this particular occasion, the only life Bigtree was immediately endangering was his own. The less forgiving among us would consider it only justice if he fell victim to the same illusions he fosters in others.
He would have had no problem taking blood from his wife, who we can presume is unvaccinated. But it can take seven to 10 days to test the blood before it is cleared for transfusion.
“So at that point, I just randomly reached out to a few of the functional medicine doctors… asking them if they had a clinic or some way that they could get me either direct transfusions from people I knew or some way to a blood bank that was tracking this information,” Bigtree recalled. “My favorite cancer doctor, really in the world, has a clinic, actually, a couple, one in Tijuana and one down in Cancun. And I reached out and told him my predicament.”
Tell a prominent oncologist about a cancer clinic in Cancun with a branch in Tijuana and you are likely to see eyebrows rise.
Bigtree reasoned that cancer surgeries would sometimes require blood transfusions.
“Do you have access to a blood bank? Or a way that I could get unvaccinated blood?” Bigtree asked.
A responsible physician would have told Bigtree to just go to the nearest hospital and stop risking his life unnecessarily. The doctor in Mexico called back within an hour.
“If you can get to Cancun, we can get you transfusions with people that have not been vaccinated,” the doctor said, by Bigtree’s account.
Some of Bigtree’s supporters arranged for a private plane to transport him to where there was no reason to go, But he was not at all sure he would survive the flight to Cancun without an initial transfusion. He and his wife enlisted the help of family friends, a couple who are both emergency room doctors.
“[Their friends] had been working with the blood bank all day long and managed to get the blood bank to call every donor that had donated,” Bigtree said. “And they found one... one unit of blood.”
That was on the night of May 20. Bigtree received the single unit, which gave him the same lift as safely as he would have received from the blood of a vaccinated person, without all the phone calls and drama. He was marginally better when the plane took off the next morning. His wife came along, administering oxygen.
“All the way to Cancun,” Bigtree said. “Soon as I arrived, [I] was greeted by the doctors from the hospital there.”
He received a total of five transfusions, he said. The doctors sought to determine what was causing the problem in the first place.
In the meantime, a guest host filled in on The Highwire, so as to keep the distortions and delusions flowing. Bigtree returned on June 4.
“Del is back!” the podcast announced.
Bigtree did not respond to a Daily Beast request for comment about his illness and subsequent account. One medical tale to which Bigtree seems to use the truth as home base was the upshot of his own.
“We were running tests on everything, but what it ultimately appears to have come down to is really Occam’s razor, which is the simplest answer,” Bigtree said. “Here’s where it’s not exactly the greatest thing to have to share. But I’m going to be honest about it because I think it’s something that we all do. We all tend to live with chronic issues and things that we think aren’t that serious? And in this case, that’s what I was doing for the last two years.”
For 15 months of that time, he had been perpetuating falsehoods about COVID and vaccines in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed more than 594,000 American lives. He had all the while been ignoring a private medical, seemingly minor problem of his own.
“I was really not paying attention to a growing issue, which was internal hemorrhoids that were getting worse and worse,” he said. “And I was aware that there was bleeding taking place, as many people that suffer from those things do, but I just kept working and thinking I’ve never heard of someone dying from freaking hemorrhoids.”
He went on, “I am here to report that the surgeon said that, you know, what was inside was horrific and really needed to be taken care of. And so I had a surgery to deal with that.”
He added, “I’m sitting on my doughnut right now, in all total candor.”
He was speaking with a frankness that would have been admirable were he not also energetically spreading deadly lies.
Bigtree’s affliction might seem apt to those who refer to a professional anti-vaxxer with a certain vulgarism.