Hunger Strike Continues Outside Northwestern Hospital

Protesters say Northwestern refused to add their undocumented loved ones to organ transplant lists

More than a dozen protesters continued a hunger strike Monday morning on the steps of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago to fight for fair treatment of undocumented immigrants in need of organ donation.

A group of 14 protestors hasn't eaten for a week in response to what they say is Northwestern's refusal to add their undocumented family members to organ transplant lists. About 40 others have been picketing but have not joined the hunger strike.

The 14 on hunger strike say they need kidneys or livers.

According to a researcher at Rush University Medical Center, David Ansell, 20 percent of the organs donated in this country come from uninsured people and only 1 percent of the people who wind up getting organ transplants are uninsured, the Sun-Times reported.  

That's not fair, said the sister of a Mexican immigrant who needs a kidney, and who, by virtue of being undocumented, is also uninsured.

"If you're not a citizen, you could still donate," Osbeidy Rivera said, "but when it comes to people who don't have documents, they don't want to help them. It's sad."

The group said they are not leaving until they get a face-to-face meeting with hospital administration. Until then they'll stay on the sidewalk and continue consuming only liquids like water, V8 and Gatorade. 

In a statement released late Monday, Northwestern officials said all prospective candidates for organ transplantation are evaluated "against a rigorous set of standards" and that "U.S. citizenship is not among them."

“Our multidisciplinary teams of clinicians and social workers review a host of determining factors that might forecast an individual’s chances for a successful surgery as well as their means for long-term stability with a transplanted organ," the statement continued. "Our processes follow policies compliant with federal regulations. ... We believe such careful and meticulous standards ensure fair and equitable evaluation of everyone seeking transplant and allow us to ensure the greatest opportunities for viability of patients with donated organs." 

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