A community in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is rallying behind a Mexican national on the waiting list for a double-lung transplant.
Sara Rodriguez has been hospitalized with interstitial lung disease and secondary respiratory failure for the past month, but her attorney and her family have taken the initiative to reach out to their networks and raise money for her medical bills, WDJT reported.
“She was with shortness of breath,” explains Rene Gallegos, Sara’s husband. “She started losing a lot of weight. She got so sick she couldn’t focus. She wasn’t able to speak.”
Rene then rushed Sara to the hospital, where she currently remains hooked up to oxygen in the intensive care unit.
“She’s on oxygen,” says Rene. “She cannot be without the oxygen because the co2 levels build up. The co2 levels are extremely high. They are to the point where the doctors say they’re surprised on how she’s still able to function.”
The family says doctors at the current hospital are keeping her comfortable until she is able to be transferred to a hospital that has the ability to do lung transplants.
Sara, who does not have medical insurance and cannot qualify for Medicaid because of her immigration status, also has to find a way to pay her medical bills.
To expedite Sara’s application to become an American citizen, Rene and Sara got married in December, and they hired an attorney who reached out to the community to help.
Milwaukee’s Mexican Consulate waived the application fee, and even Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) got involved in the issue, releasing the following statement about Sara’s case:
While a favorable outcome cannot be guaranteed, my office is working diligently to ensure that Sara’s case receives consideration. A request for expeditious processing of her case has been submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by my office.
Sara’s doctor also penned a letter to expedite her immigration application so she could receive the lung transplant.
“Legal permanent residence in the U.S. is an imperative first step in the pursuit of a lung transplant evaluation, and her dire medical circumstances make this need urgent,” a portion of the letter stated.
There is also a GoFundMe page to help the family with Sara’s medical expenses. As of Thursday afternoon, the page has raised more than $10,000.