Lorenzo Arroyo rests on the third day of a hunger strike to pressure Chicago hospitals into performing organ transplants on undocumented immigrants.EFE
Latinos who have been on a hunger strike for the last two weeks demanding organ transplants for the undocumented racked up a win Tuesday by getting one of the Chicago hospitals at the center of the protests to provide such a procedure.
Mexican immigrant Lorenzo Arroyo, 36, will be given the medical attention he needs, including a kidney transplant, at the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center, the hunger strikers said.
Arroyo, who suffers from kidney failure due to a hereditary disease, took part in the fast for the first few days until his health deteriorated and he stopped under doctors' orders. The hunger strike took place at the mission starting June 3 and currently involves seven people protesting the exclusion of the undocumented from transplant waiting lists.
"The agreement also says that the medical center will form a commission with other hospitals to take care of urgent cases for whom no medical attention is available because of their immigration status," the Rev. Jose Landaverde, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Mission in the mainly Mexican neighborhood of Little Village, said.
Nonetheless, he said "the fight is far from over" because the campaign is looking for immediate solutions for another two Latinos who need transplants. His brother however, Elfego, 38 who suffers from the same deadly liver disease is still struggling to receive a transplant and is on a wait list.
With the support of community and religious groups, health-care unions and Occupy Chicago, the protest focused on the UIC Medical Center and the Loyola University Medical Center.
Both Elfego and Lorenzo have primary amyloidosis, a disease passed from parent to child and makes the liver produce abnormal proteins that cause other organs to fail, said Dr. David Ansell to the Chicago Tribune. Dr. Ansell is senior vice president for clinical affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, who is familiar with the Arroyos and their health care dilemma.
The Arroyos' mother died a few years ago at age 63 of the same disease, their older brother, Francisco, 40, also had the disease but received a transplant because his is a legal resident.
Speaking deliberately while seated on a sofa at the church, Lorenzo spoke to Efe at the beginning of June about his decision to participate in the hunger strike.
"So far I feel OK, thank God," Lorenzo said. "He's giving me strength to resist and as long as He gives me strength I must be on hunger strike until there's an agreement with the hospitals and they decide to treat us."
He called on the Mexican and U.S. governments to create a bi-national fund to help undocumented migrants who, like him and his two brothers, have serious illnesses, adding that "because we're undocumented, we're destined to die."
Another undocumented Hispanic migrant in urgent need of assistance is 24-year-old Jorge Mariscal, who needs a new kidney and has no way to afford a transplant that would cost between $100,000 and $250,000.
His mother, Sonia Lopez, told Efe she will remain on hunger strike as long as necessary to secure the necessary aid for her son and the Arroyo brothers.
Hilda Burgos, whose son received a kidney transplant years ago, also has joined in the protest in solidarity with the others.
She said her son, Luis Jesus, now leads a normal life and she wants other immigrants in the same plight to have access to organ transplants as well.