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March calls for restoring kidney transplants to undocumented immigrants in Illinois

 Chicago (IL), .- Loading replicas of coffins, kidney patients, activists and relatives of the patients walked this Wednesday 10 miles (16 km) under rain in Chicago to demand that kidney transplants be reinitiated to undocumented immigrants in the state of Illinois.

The protest, which took place in the guise of a funeral procession, toured several of the city’s hospitals that have suspended treatments and transplants due to lack of funds.

“It’s a question of life or death, not a problem of immigration status,” Anglican minister José Landaverde, leader of a movement that began several years ago to help immigrants who do not have health insurance, told Efe.

The religious demands compliance with a 2014 law that established Illinois as the only state in the country that performs free dialysis and kidney transplants to the undocumented, without requiring a minimum of residence in the country, and charged to the Medicaid subsidized medical insurance.

However, the former state governor, Bruce Rauner, eliminated the benefit by reducing expenses to balance the budget, and the sick were left unprotected.

In Illinois, dialysis is considered an emergency treatment in hospitals and has an annual cost of $ 60,000, less than the $ 100,000 that a kidney transplant costs.
“We demand the state of Illinois to restore the funds, also to the legislators who act, but nobody seems willing to help,” said Landaverde.

In his opinion, the Republican Rauner would be responsible for the problem, but also his successor, the Democrat JB Pritzker and the members of the Legislative Assembly.

Oscar López, an undocumented patient who was diagnosed 5 years ago with kidney failure, was hospitalized several times and told Efe that he needs an urgent transplant.

“The doctor told me that if I do not get a kidney this year, I do not know,” he said.

For his part, Jesus Villegas, 23 years old and six years in the process of dialysis, said he felt “very tired.”
“I can not do anything anymore, I can not work, sometimes I do not even have the strength to eat, I spend asleep all the time,” said the young man, who has temporary residence status in the country thanks to the DACA (Deferred Action for Arrivals in Childhood).

At the main door of each hospital, the demonstrators left behind one of the simulated coffins, made of cardboard and plastic, as well as a request to return patients to receive the most serious cases.

“It is a sin and something immoral what politicians and hospitals do when denying attention to our brothers because they lack papers,” denounced Landaverde.

He also recalled that the law specifies that a transplant can not be denied to anyone in Illinois because of their immigration status, by race or nationality. (EFEUSA)

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