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Little Village Hunger Strike Protests Hospital Transplant Policy

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Protesters are calling for local hospitals to provide transplants to undocumented immigrants (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Protesters are calling for local hospitals to provide transplants to undocumented immigrants (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

(Credit: Lisa Fielding) Lisa Fielding
Lisa Fielding is a news anchor and reporter for Newsradio 780....
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CBS Chicago (con't)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Reverend Luis Alvarengo of the United Church of Christ says it’s a matter of life and death.

“We want to stop eating so they can see that we are serious.”

Alvarengo is among those protesting the hospitals’ decisions not to provide potentially life-saving transplants to undocumented immigrants.

“Unfortunately some of us don’t have documents or insurance so we are unable to get on the list.”

Alvarengo says they will continue their hunger strike until the hospitals listen to their message.

“I like to invite as a member of the United Church of Christ, my very own hospital which is Christ Hospital to be serious to take responsibility as a non profit organization. They have always said we’re going to listen, we’re going to talk, but nothing has happened.”

The hospitals which are targeted in this protest are not alone in their resolve to draw a line at transplants for the undocumented.

Medicare won’t pay for a transplant because it is not considered an emergency procedure. When it comes to undocumented immigrants, they can’t recoup the costs through state and federal funding programs.

“We are pushing Loyola, Northwestern University Medical Center, UIC, Christ Hospital and Illinois Masonic to put all these patients on the waiting list for transplants because it’s unethical, it’s evil what the hospitals are doing, putting money over people’s lives,” said Rev. Jose Landaverde, Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Mission.

While there is no legislation that prevents undocumented immigrants from obtaining transplants in the U.S., lack of health insurance coverage is the biggest obstacle.

Last year, the same group staged a similar hunger strike for 21 days.

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