— Daniela Peralta (@dannymperalta) April 14, 2015
Daniela Peralta is a 32-year-old Ecuadorian woman who thinks the best gift she can offer is the gift of life, especially if it means saving someone close to her, and even more so when that person happens to be her niece's mother. In January, Peralta found out that her sister-in-law, Susy Hinojosa, was suffering from nephritis and kidney failure, and was in dire need of an organ transplant. Although she was subjected to a series of rigorous medical examinations that indicated she was a suitable donor, Ecuador's National Institute for the Donation and Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells (INDOT) denied Peralta permission to donate organ tissue.
Article 33 of the Statutory Law Respecting Donation and Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells clearly states the recipient must either have “a kinship within the fourth degree of consanguinity with the donor” or be the recipient's “spouse or common-law partner.” Because she is only related to her sister-in-law by marriage, Peralta does not meet the legal requirements, which were established in order to prevent organ trafficking, according to the Executive Director of INDOT, Diana Almeida.
As reported by the BBC, Susy Hinojosa, who is 36-years-old, must undergo dialysis three times a week. Unfortunately, none of the members of her immediate family are in a position to donate: her three brothers are unable for medical reasons, and her husband is incompatible. If Hinojosa opts to wait for a deceased donor, she knows there are already 444 names ahead of hers on the transplant list.
But Daniela Peralta does not give up easily, and has taken to social media to promote her case under the hashtag #YoTengoDerechoaDonar (“I have the right to donate”) to galvanize public attention and humanize the donor law. As she told Ecuador's national broadcaster Ecuavisa, “I have rights over my body… I see very little sense in it only being of use when we die.”
With 3,502 likes, the Yo Tengo Derecho a Donar Facebook page is chock-full of messages in support of the transplant between the sisters-in-law. The message has even reached the President's office, leading to a staff member contacting Peralta on April 14 to discuss the case and offer help, promising a reply within eight days. In her latest update, however, Peralta said:
Queridos amigos, luchadores por la vida! Es muy importante que sepan que todavía NO se nos autoriza nuestra operación, solo se nos di una esperanza y por eso ahora más que nunca necesitamos que sigan luchando junto a nosotros hasta que nuestra voz y la de todos los que luchan contra está terrible enfermedad se escuche!
Dear friends fighting for life! It is very important that you know that our operation has still NOT been authorized—all we have been given is hope and so now, more than ever, we need you to keep fighting alongside us until our voice and those of all who are struggling with this terrible disease are heard.
Many Twitter users are also supporting the campaign:
I think organ donation should be allowed in cases where the recipient has been approved. Let's support Daniela
If they can't compel me to donate, why is it acceptable to prohibit me from doing so for whom and when I want, dead or alive?
— Diana Amores Moreno (@Diana_Amores) abril 16, 2015
It's wonderful to see the power of a fair claim. A fight to live and to give life. Power!
The debate has been launched in Ecuador: Who can donate? Under what circumstances?
Ecuadorian Congresswoman María Alejandra Vicuña of the governing Alianza PAIS party has raised the possibility of reforms that would permit donation by family members related by second-degree affinity, which includes relationships by marriage. Any such legislation, however, would require prior validation and authorization by a bioethics committee to guard against the potential sale or trafficking of organs. Meanwhile, Daniela Peralta soldiers on, raising awareness to save the life of her sister-in-law.