GLOBE, Ariz — It was a diagnosis Lilly Machado could hardly believe: Non-alcoholic Cirrhosis.
Doctors tell Lilly that her liver is operating at less than 15% of normal.
“This can’t be. I’m a healthy woman. I never drink. I don’t smoke, I don’t use drugs,“ Machado remembered thinking after getting the bad news.
Lilly is a mother of three. She's a waitress at a Mexican restaurant in Globe, and she started getting sick around three months ago.
She was losing weight, feeling nauseous and throwing up. Eventually, doctors were able to figure out what was wrong.
They told Lilly her liver was scarred, and that she needs a liver transplant to survive.
However, before she can get the life-saving surgery, Lily said doctors told her she needed $50,000 up front and prove she could cover the full $450,000 for the cost of the procedure and medicine.
It's money Lilly doesn't have.
“At that moment I felt like my life fell apart. I was afraid of what was going to happen next. What’s going to happen to my kids?“ Lilly said.
Requiring the money up front is not unusual for transplants.
Kaiser Health has reported for years that often patients don’t get on a transplant list if they can’t afford the total cost of care.
The goal is to make sure valuable organs go to those that can afford the drugs to make a transplant successful.
However, for Lilly's family, they wonder if money should be a factor in who gets a potentially life-saving surgery.
"It’s not fair, these are real human lives we are dealing with," Jackie Machado, Lilly's daughter, said. “How are you going to ask someone to put up a half-million dollars just to save their life?”
Lilly is desperate. She said she can no longer work as her health has deteriorated in recent weeks.
“I want to live. I want to enjoy my kids. I want to see my daughter get married and have kids of their own. I want to see my son, he’s a senior this year so he’s about to graduate.
I want to see him with his cap and gown making me proud. I want to see my little ones have the same chance my older kids have. And just thinking I'm not able to see that. It just breaks my heart,” Machado said.
The family is not giving up. They are working to see if nonprofits will help. The family also has a GoFundMe account that has already raised more than $70,000.
It's a lot of money that shows what Machado means to the Globe community.
However, it is still a long way away from the total needed to potentially save her life.
“It’s been a blessing. But I need a big miracle,” Machado said.
If you would like to help the family, you can donate to their GoFundMe account here.
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