Hospital Denies Illegal Immigrant Liver Transplant

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An Oregon hospital has reversed its position after initially denying a woman a liver transplant because she was not a documented citizen of the United States.

Silvia Lesama-Santos, 46, was listed as being in "critical condition" when the Oregon Health and Sciences University denied her a liver transplant, Fox12 reported. The American Civil Liberties Union said in a press release that the transplant was denied because Lesama-Santos was an undocumented immigrant.

Lesama-Santos, who is a mother of four, has reportedly lived in Oregon for three decades. Although she has health insurance through her husband's employer, she received a letter on Feb. 5 informing her that she does not qualify for transplant evaluation because she does not have "lawful presence."

Andrea Williams, who is the executive director of immigrant rights advocacy group Causa Oregon, was devastated by the rejection.

"Denying Silvia a transplant based on her immigration status is effectively a death sentence," Williams said in the release. "Our hearts are breaking for Silvia and her family. We hope there is still time for OHSU to change their decision."

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The Oregon Health and Sciences University reversed its decision on the same day the ACLU press release emerged. They also issued a statement:

It was brought to our attention this evening that an archaic transplant policy was preventing an undocumented individual from being evaluated at OHSU. Upon learning of the policy, OHSU leaders acted immediately and terminated the policy. We deeply regret the pain this has caused the family.

OHSU is committed to serving our entire community -- all are welcome at OHSU, and this policy does not reflect our values.

The OHSU transplant team is informing the family of our change in policy... OHSU's legal team has begun a system-wide audit to ensure no other such policies exist.

The mother's eldest son, Ivan Gonzalez Lesama, started a GoFundMe page.

"My siblings are young, they are ages four, thirteen, and fifteen, with me being the oldest at 21.  We don't know what we'd do without her," the son wrote. "While my family continues to fight for her life and health as she remains hospitalized, we are asking our community for support with medical expenses."

He later said he appreciated everyone for their support.

"To who this may concern my mother starts the transplant process tomorrow!" Ivan wrote. "This is a life changing opportunity that we have been givin! My mother thanks all of you for your thoughts!"

The page raised nearly $5,000 of its $10,000 goal in just one day.

Sources: Fox 12GoFundMe / Featured Image: Max Pixel / Embedded Images: GoFundMeM.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons

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