Hunger strikers to march to Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Edward Cox, Assistant Summer Editor

Patients will march today to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and demand to speak with its management about its organ transplant policy, according to an organizer.

The march, which begins at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Mission, comes after 14 patients concluded a week-long hunger strike outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They have said they have been denied a spot on a transplant waiting list because of their illegal residency in the country.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has said its organ transplant candidates are evaluated “regardless of citizenship or immigration status” and picked based on their potential for long-term health. The hospital declined to comment further Friday on the hunger strike.

The Rev. Jose Landaverde of Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Mission said Northwestern Memorial Hospital has been two-faced, telling reporters that it would grant patient Isibro Solis an organ transplant, but later denying it to him on the grounds of his illegal residency and uninsured status.

“They say one thing to the media and do the opposite thing,” Landaverde said. “This is evil what Northwestern Memorial does.”

The 14 patients ended their hunger strike this week after they met with representatives of Christ Advocate Medical Center. Landaverde said the hospital officials agreed to coordinate with other Chicago-area hospitals, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, to put patients with illegal residency in the country and uninsured status on the waiting list.

However, A patient who had requested a kidney transplant from Northwestern Memorial Hospital died at about 5 p.m. Friday, Landaverde said. At a news conference on the same afternoon, patients denounced the hospital for refusing to provide organ transplants to those with illegal residency in the country and uninsured status.

Patients and their families also met with Dr. David Ansell, the chief medical officer of Rush University Medical Center, and a state representative before deciding to march to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Landaverde said.

“The issue is people need transplants,” Landaverde said. “They cannot let people continue dying.”

Edward Cox