Jesus Navarro needs a new kidney. He has a willing donor and private insurance -- but he has been denied the transplant because he is an illegal immigrant. Administrators at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center are refusing to transplant a kidney from Navarro’s wife, saying he may not receive sufficient follow-up care, due to his uncertain status.
The decision highlights the tension between immigration policy and health care, and underlines the difficult role medical professionals play in attempts to save the lives of illegal immigrants. Mercury News reports there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that clinics often perform organ transplants on undocumented residents, even when the patients are young. In one case, UCLA Medical Center gave an illegal immigrant woman 3 liver transplants before she turned 21.
Health administrators also reject patients because of their immigration status, but that usually happens when patients lack insurance. “It puts the doctors in a very awkward and torn position,” said University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Art Caplan. “You come into this trying to do good and find yourself stuck in the middle of a fight about immigration.” ~ San Jose Mercury News, Jan 31