[See also: That Santillan Saga: Lies, Damned Lies, Immigration Enthusiasts and Neosocialist Health Bureaucrats, by Peter Brimelow]
"It's really troublesome that we've gotten to a point in this country where you allow a person to die because of his so-called legal status."
That’s what Ignacio de la Fuente, [Email him]President of the Oakland City Council, had to say on the plight of Jesús (pronounced Hay-Soos) Navarro, a Mexican illegal alien in the Bay Area who has been in the national news because his legal status is complicating his bid for a kidney transplant.
Navarro worked illegally in the U.S. for years. After 14 years working at Pacific Steel in Berkeley, he was one of about 200 workers at the foundry who were dismissed when a federal I-9 audit revealed they were illegal aliens. [Pacific Steel forced to lay off 200 workers, By Sergio Quintana, ABC, December 18, 2011.] As a result, the company was forced to lay off the 200 illegal aliens. (On the other hand, the Obama Administration did not, of course, deport them).
The complication: Navarro has a kidney disease, is on dialysis, and needs a new kidney. He had applied for a kidney transplant at the UC San Francisco Medical Center, he’d reached the top of his waiting list, and his wife is willing to donate.
What catapulted Navarro’s case into the national news: this past May the hospital discovered Navarro was an illegal alien and changed his waiting list status to “inactive”.
This led to headlines such as:
The case has now been nationally publicized, with an online petition signed by 140,000 calling on the hospital to approve Navarro’s transplant.
You can visit the website set up to promote Navarro’s cause here: Transplant4Jesus.com.
On Feb. 9th UCSF explained to the San Francisco Chronicle why Navarro had been put on the inactive list, claiming that “UCSF does not and will not discriminate on the basis of immigration status.”
So why did they put him on the inactive list?
….hospital administrators acknowledged his immigration status complicates the issue because it may make Navarro ineligible for government programs to help pay for ongoing medical care and lifesaving drugs needed to prevent organ rejection. After a transplant, the cost of medications can range from $10,000 to $60,000 a year.
"Whether people are documented or not, this issue of assuring coverage for very, very expensive care is critical, and our current health care financing system is so fragmented it puts people in a real bind," said Dr. Joshua Adler, UCSF's chief medical officer. "That bind is even more limiting for people who are undocumented."
However, the hospital “did assure Navarro and his supporters this week that he had not lost his position on the waiting list and that they would work with him to develop a plan that would allow him to move forward with surgery.” [UCSF still may do Jesus Navarro Kidney Transplant, By Victoria Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 10th, 2012]
So it’s looking now as though UCSF are going to do the transplant.
And it also seems likely that, Navarro’s specialized post-surgery medical attention, which must be provided the rest of his life, is going to be financed in some way, shape or form, by American taxpayers.
There were a number of critical comments linked to the Chronicle article. (175 at midday February 16.) One commenter suggested: “Just deport him to Mexico and let them pay for the operation. No one's going to be giving me —a U.S. citizen — $60,000 a year.”
Or this: “I do not understand how any American hospital can give an illegal alien a kidney transplant while there are thousands of American citizens waiting for kidney transplant. ”
So what do we make of all this? How can we balance the interests of compassion, the law, and American taxpayers?
First off, anyone who has a kidney disease has my sympathy.
But let’s put things into perspective. Is Navarro the only person in the country awaiting a kidney transplant? Most assuredly not.
In fact, the Chronicle’s Colliver herself, at the very end of her article where maybe some people won’t read it, reveals a telling fact:
“UCSF has about 5,000 patients on the waiting list, and the hospital is able to transplant fewer than 350 a year. The real problem, according to transplant organizations, is that there are too many people waiting for too few organs. “
Wow! Just let that sink in! This one hospital alone can’t quite carry out 350 kidney transplants annually—and it has about 5,000 patients waiting for kidneys!
So why all the attention given to Navarro? Where are the newspaper articles about the other 4,650 + patients wondering if they’ll ever get a transplant?
How many others have their own organization and website supporting them?
And all this is only in one hospital.
In other words, it’s tough for anybody to get a kidney transplant. Tough choices have to be made. Many Americans have kidney problems. I have an in-law who is involved in such a process, and it’s a long and complicated one.
Navarro’s legal status, by the way, is not irrelevant.
Navarro is an illegal alien, does not and never has had the right to be in our country legally. By all rights, he should have been deported years ago. But since our federal government doesn’t do its job, he’s still here.
Who knows, maybe if he’d stayed in Mexico, he wouldn’t have developed his kidney disease. I have no idea.
On the one hand, I have sympathy for Navarro’s plight, on the other hand I don’t agree with illegal immigration, and its encouragement by our government, business world and media. And the special attention given Navarro is part of that.
None of Navarro’s new friends mention the obvious fact: he is a citizen of Mexico and therefore their problem, not ours. Mexico is a wealthy nation (#14 worldwide in national GDP), with all the usual medical services. People actually travel to Mexico to get cheap organ transplants.
That’s right! And specifically, Mexico is an international center of kidney transplantation. See the Medical Tourism Corporation’s FAQ on Renal Transplantation (Kidney Transplant) Abroad.
And that leads me to my proposed solution to the Jesús Navarro’s predicament.
I believe that my solution would satisfy the interests of compassion, the rule of law, and American taxpayers.
The first step: buy Navarro and family a one-way ticket (paid for by Pacific Steel) to the city of his choice in Mexico. Upon arrival, a representative of Pacific Steel is going to arrange for Navarro’s kidney transplant.
A big advantage of having the surgery done in Mexico is cost. Medical care is just much less expensive in Mexico. (I learned this firsthand when I resided there, and many Americans avail themselves of Mexican medical care for this reason).
They can get Navarro’s surgery and follow- up work done much cheaper in Mexico. On average, medical care is 25-50% cheaper than here in our country. (See Health Care in Mexico is Excellent and Affordable, by Glynna Prentice, International Living, November 5, 2010. )
Who will be paying for this care? Well, the initial transportation costs and the cost of the surgery will be provided by Pacific Steel in Berkeley. After all, this company was happy to utilize the services of Navarro for 14 years, rather than hiring an American citizen. Since Navarro worked for Pacific Steel for 14 years, during which time he was diagnosed with the kidney disease, Pacific Steel ought to be happy to take care of Navarro.
We’re constantly being told how great it is to have illegal alien labor. Pacific Steel should therefore take responsibility for Navarro in his hour of need.
Then Pacific Steel [Email them] should set up a private trust fund for Navarro’s medical care. After all, with all that money the company saved by not hiring Americans, they ought to have plenty.
And there’s another group of people who can help. All those people who signed Navarro’s online petition now have a chance to help him. One of the comments appended the San Francisco Chronicle article was:
No worries! There were over 140,000 people who declared their support online for Mr. Navarro. If each of those people would donate $50.00 each I believe the situation will be resolved.
Then there’s Oakland City Council Ignacio de la Fuente, who I quoted at the beginning saying Navarro shouldn’t be allowed to die because he was an illegal alien. Surely de la Fuente would be happy to chip in also?
From a Christian point of view of view, I believe we’re on solid ground here. When Christ told the story of the Good Samaritan it was about a man who provided an act of benevolence out of his own funds, not a cheap labor profiteer or a grandstanding politician.
The Friends of Navarro can all contribute to some sort of trust fund (not to be managed by politicians of either country) to keep Navarro’s treatment going, in Mexico, for the rest of his life. Remember, it doesn’t cost as much south of the border.
Of course, if this project fails to pay out in a few years, the Mexican government could step in. After all, the Mexican government is constantly harping on how bad the U.S. supposedly treats Mexican illegal aliens. Wouldn’t it be preferable that it take care of its own citizens first?
That’s my proposal. I believe it’s fair and compassionate, and could save Navarro’s life.
It also has the advantage of requiring Pacific Steel [Email them] to take responsibility for its own former employee rather than pushing the costs onto the taxpayer.
Indeed, we should look at other companies and see how they could help resolve other such painful situations.
Shouldn’t those who profit by hiring illegal aliens be responsible for the people they exploit?
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.