By Steven Dubois / Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — An Oregon hospital that denied a liver transplant for a woman because of her immigration status has changed its decision and will put her on the waiting list.
Oregon Health & Science University informed 46-year-old Silvia Lesama-Santos on Monday that she was ineligible for a transplant because she lacked “lawful permanent residence or immigration documentation.”
The Portland hospital reversed course Tuesday night after the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon publicized the woman’s plight and started an online petition.
In a statement, OHSU said its leaders had been unaware of the “archaic” policy, and it has been terminated.
“We deeply regret the pain this has caused the family,” the hospital said. “OHSU is committed to serving our entire community — all are welcome at OHSU, and this policy does not reflect our values.”
The hospital said its legal team has started an audit to make sure that no other such policies exist in the health system.
Mat dos Santos, the ACLU of Oregon legal director, said medical institutions have an ethical obligation to treat people fairly, and denying medical care based on immigration status is “cruel and inhumane.”
Lesama-Santos has lived in the Portland area for three decades and has health insurance, the ACLU said.
“Things are still touch-and-go for Silvia because of how far her liver issues have progressed,” said Sarah Armstrong, an ACLU spokeswoman.
Armstrong said Lesama-Santos is in the intensive care unit, and now has kidney failure and other health complications.