UIC, Loyola and Rush accept selected undocumented sick onto transplant lists

After three weeks of not eating, four hospital visits and numerous back-and-forths with the hospitals, the hunger strikers for health care can declare victory.

It is their second in two days - Loyola Medical Center said Wednesday it would take Jorge Mariscal, whose mother was one of the original hunger strikers, onto its transplant list.

Earlier this week, Lorenzo Arroyo, one of two brothers who need liver transplants due to a congenital disease, was put on the transplant list at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center after the hunger strikers took up his cause.

And several months ago, his brother, Elfego Arroyo, was put on the transplant list at Rush University Medical Center after Father Jose Landaverde, one of the hunger strikers, petitioned on his behalf.

Jorge, Lorenzo and Elfego were all kept off the transplant list by their undocumented immigration status. The lack of a social security number initially made them ineligible to get on the list, said the hospitals.

"This is a very big victory," Landaverde told The Chicago Reporter.

An estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, and because there are no nationally mandated rules governing transplants for undocumented people, most of them would face a situation similar to that of Jorge or the Arroyo brothers if they were in need of a transplant.

Landaverde says he hopes that having three individual Chicago-area hospitals - Loyola Medical Center, UIC Medical Center and Rush Hospital - reconsider the cases of undocumented immigrants may eventually lead to a change in national policy, and plans to bring together a roundtable in the coming weeks to discuss the issue.

Until then, the hunger strikers will go without food for one more night, and end their fast on Thursday morning.


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