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Oregon Hospital Changes Its Policy After Outcry Regarding Liver Transplant

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A hospital in Oregon had to end a policy that kept an undocumented woman from receiving a liver transplant due to her immigration status, after a public outcry.

Silvia Lesama-Santos, 46, has lived in the United States for the past 30 years. She was denied the transplant through a letter from the Oregon Health and Science University transplant program, The Washington Post reports. The university focuses on health-related sciences.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon posted the letter online, which read,

You tell us that [you] do not have documentation of lawful presence or immigration documentation. OHSU requires proof of lawful presence for transplant services.

The ACLU of Oregon had actively advocated for Lesama-Santos, and publicized the hospital’s denial of her care. Mat dos Santos, director of the union, called the treatment “cruel and inhumane.”

Lesama-Santos’s son, Ivan Gonzalez Lesama, said in a release, “My mother’s only chance at survival is to receive a liver transplant, but OHSU has denied her because she is undocumented. They won’t even let her get on the waiting list while we look for another hospital who will help her.”

The OHSU suddenly announced a change to this policy after protests came in. A statement from the school said, “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.”

Lesama-Santos and her family were informed of the reversal in the decision, but she had already been accepted to a hospital in Seattle. An ACLU spokesperson said that it is now unclear whether the mother of four is healthy enough to travel to Seattle, or even get the transplant in Oregon at all, local news outlets report.

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