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Arizona woman heads to Mexico for liver transplant with community support

Posted at 4:47 AM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-30 07:47:14-04

MIAMI, AZ — Forty-one-year-old Lilly Machado has had the entire community by her side since the beginning and that continues, just like her journey.

Friends and family wished her well as she set off to Mexico for her only chance of survival: a liver transplant.

"Without them, this miracle was not going to be possible," says Machado, a Miami-area resident.

It was an emotional send-off for the local waitress, and mother, whose will to live as she battles cirrhosis of the liver has been an inspiration to others.

Dozens of friends and family lined the streets in Globe on Wednesday - from Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center to her home. They held signs with words of encouragement.

“I wanted her to know that we're all here, we're all fighting for her, and we love her,” says a former coworker.

"We all support her, and we can't wait for her to come back,” says another former coworker.

ABC15 first met Lilly last week at her home when she told us she would have to pay $500,000 out of pocket for a liver transplant, even with being covered under Arizona's Medicaid agency. Her health drastically declined over the weekend, so she was admitted to Cobre Valley. Doctors told her she only has about two weeks to live.

"Lilly didn't think she had that support, you know. She thought she was any other waitress in a small town that nobody, nobody was going to care about her story, and she thought she didn't have any hope,” said Berenise Bowyer, a friend.

The Globe-Miami community continues to lift her spirits. The money they raised will, in fact, pay for Machado’s surgery in Mexico, which will cost much less. She was discharged from Cobre Valley on Wednesday with staff supporting her every step of the way. Her employers from El Ranchito, where she's worked the past 15 years, picked her up from the hospital before driving through the parade of people.

"Thank you to all my people here in downtown, they've always been so supportive," says Machado.

She will be heading to Mexico early Thursday morning. It's not a quick process, so she will be there for some time, but the community will be here waiting.