- The Washington Times - Monday, August 5, 2013

A group demanding organ transplants for illegal immigrants protested in a hunger strike for the seventh straight day on Sunday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

About 40 people gathered in front of the hospital, including the 14 people on the hunger strike, My Fox Chicago reported.

“We’re asking for help,” said Blanca Gomez, 23, who needs a kidney transplant. “I go to dialysis three times a week. I’m not going off the hunger strike until I get on the transplant list.”

The group said 14 illegal immigrants in Chicago need either a liver or kidney transplant, but cannot afford it because they don’t have healthcare, My Fox reported.

The protesters said they would stay until Northwestern Memorial CEO Dean Harrison agrees to a meeting. A hospital spokesman was unable to comment.

“One the one hand, the intent of the national transplant registry is to base transplants on who needs them most, but there are indeed a whole group of people who find themselves shut out,” said Dr. David Ansell, chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center. “And these are people who are uninsurable, and it creates an ethical dilemma of doing the right thing against the extreme cost of doing a transplant.”

An average kidney transplant can cost between $100,000 and $200,000, Mr. Ansell said.

“These are people who contribute to the community. The answer can’t be no access,” he added.

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