For Illegal Immigrant, Line Is Drawn at Transplant

Nina Bernstein, CNBC, December 21, 2011

Without treatment to replace his failing kidneys, doctors knew, the man in Bellevue hospital would die. He was a waiter in his early 30s, a husband and father of two, so well liked at the Manhattan restaurant where he had worked for a decade that everyone from the customers to the dishwasher was donating money to help his family.

He was also an illegal immigrant. So when his younger brother volunteered to donate a kidney to restore him to normal life, they encountered a health care paradox: the government would pay for a lifetime of dialysis, costing $75,000 a year, but not for the $100,000 transplant that would make it unnecessary.

For nearly two years, the brothers and their supporters have been hunting for a way to make the transplant happen. Their journey has taken them through a maze of conflicting laws, private insurance conundrums and ethical quandaries, back to the national impasse between health care and immigration policies.

The waiter’s boss sought private insurance, she and the brothers said, speaking on the condition that their names be withheld for fear of provoking immigration authorities. The Catch-22: for the first year, the waiter, called Angel, would get no coverage for his “pre-existing condition,” nor would he receive the dialysis that keeps him alive and able to work four days a week.

Doctors sought a transplant center that would take him. Hospitals in the city receive millions of taxpayer dollars to help offset care for illegal immigrants and other uninsured patients. But at one hospital, administrators apparently overruled surgeons willing to waive their fees. At another, Angel was told to come back when he had legal status or $200,000.

A last resort is a return to Mexico, where the operation costs about $40,000. But to pay off the necessary loans, Angel and his brother, a deli worker, would have to sneak back in through the desert. If they failed, they would be cut off from their children in Brooklyn, who are United States citizens.

{snip}

{snip} “They should not get any benefit from breaking the law, especially something as expensive as organ transplants or dialysis,” said Representative Dana T. Rohrabacher, Republican of California, who contends that care for illegal immigrants is bankrupting American health care and has sought to require that emergency rooms report stabilized patients for deportation unless they prove citizenship or legal residence.

“If they’re dead, I don’t have an objection to their organs being used,” Mr. Rohrabacher added. “If they’re alive, they shouldn’t be here no matter what.”

{snip}

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  • Sincerely Concerned

    As sad as this story is, and as a patient myself and a survivor of a father who died of kidney failure, I have to say that perhaps it will take a death such as this may be to send a message.

    Believe me, I hope this guy somehow survives. Personally, I’d like to see all private funds raised to pay for the operation and for it to be a success. However, the truth remains that “Angel” should’nt have been in the U.S. to begin with. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

  • Istvan

    A last resort is a return to Mexico, where the operation costs about $40,000. But to pay off the necessary loans, Angel and his brother, a deli worker, would have to sneak back in through the desert. If they failed, they would be cut off from their children in Brooklyn, who are United States citizens.

    There is no law against emigrating out of the US. Take your “non-American” US citizen children with you. Hasta lavista, baby.

  • Anonymous

    When organ donation became a possibility in the late 70s, I immediately signed a card (in front of witnesses), and put it in my wallet, where it remained until last year. After reading about illegals who were getting donated organs, and the sometimes millions spent on their care, and after being advised I could make no conditions as to who received my body parts, I tore the card up, and advised my family members why. (I was also unhappy that convicted criminals in prison received these benefits ahead of law-abiding citizens.) Sorry I had to do this, but nothing has changed my mind since.

  • Anonymous

    Why not have the Mexican consulate pay for the operation and long term care?

  • Anonymous

    I am a trustee at a hospital. Indigent care is bankrupting us. The state reimburses us at 80% of the already discounted Medicare/Medicaid rates. And pays it 18 months after it is billed. It truly is breaking us. To make up the difference we have sold properties that were either income producing or slated for future expansion. We have grossly under funded our pensions by well in excess of $30 million. Who pays for all this? There aren’t enough “rich people” even if you taxed them 100% of their income. The public spending gaps are too large.

  • Anonymous

    This is a bizarre version of “capture the flag”. If you can get over the border, wonderful social benefits accrue to you. And often those benefits are greater than those available to legal aliens and citizens.

  • Anonymous

    We are in a recession AND a long term secular slide in our economy. No longer can we look forward to world-class growth, or growth above that of inflation. Huge numbers of the population don’t pay federal taxes, with nearly as many are on food and housing subsidies. Blacks and Puerto Ricans have been displaced from construction and kitchen jobs, which are now held by illegals. The shame is the illegals often work hard, as our citizens are on the dole. Imagine if the social benefits were cut to where one was incentivized to go to work and compete for those jobs “Americans don’t want”. But we pay people to take a less productive path, and as a subset they are angry they don’t have more. We are doomed.

  • Anonymous

    At this time, if my brother falls off a roof and breaks a few bones, he’ll be given a hefty bill. The illegals will be given top-notch care. Legal immigrants, drug addicts, Section 8ers, etc. will be given Medicaid cards. Free visits to doctors, dentists, opticians, hospitals, free ambulance service, free ambulette service, free Metro cards, no copays, no deductibles, free medicines, free medical devices, etc. When illegals and the poor have better medical care than some people who work for their health benefits or pay for their own insurance, something is very, very wrong. When people who are given Section 8 vouchers live in better neighborhoods, have bigger and nicer apartments and homes than people who pay their own way, something is very, very wrong.

  • Sincerely Concerned

    5 — Anonymous wrote at 7:27 PM on December 21:

    I am a trustee at a hospital. Indigent care is bankrupting us. The state reimburses us at 80% of the already discounted Medicare/Medicaid rates. And pays it 18 months after it is billed. It truly is breaking us. To make up the difference we have sold properties that were either income producing or slated for future expansion. We have grossly under funded our pensions by well in excess of $30 million. Who pays for all this? There aren’t enough “rich people” even if you taxed them 100% of their income. The public spending gaps are too large.

    This happened to a hospital near my former home in Georgia. One of my best friends quit her RN position there after dreaming of being a nurse her entire life. This was over five years ago–when things were not as bad as they are now. She told me she left because the pediatric unit was overrun with ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT ADULTS, of which there were so many that they overflowed into her area. What does this mean? No room for illegal immigrant children, much less legal citizen children. She was so disgusted and so frustrated by their diseases and lack of English speaking and our wonderful government that she said goodbye to her dream. Very soon, we can all say goodbye to our lives as we will not fit into hospitals for lack of money and lack of SPACE.

  • Anonymous

    everyone from the customers to the dishwasher was donating money to help his family…A last resort is a return to Mexico, where the operation costs about $40,000.

    Simple: “everyone” who gives money to his family should instead raise $40,000 in donations to do the operation in Mexico. So, when is the private fundraiser? What’s the problem? Unless, of course, “everyone” refers to a handful of people who raised a couple bucks each, then washed their hands of their amigo.

    Taxpayers to the rescue, or the White Man is Racist!

  • margaret

    ““If they’re dead, I don’t have an objection to their organs being used,” Mr. Rohrabacher added. “If they’re alive, they shouldn’t be here no matter what.”

    Right on Mr. Rohrabacher.

  • Anonymous

    I retired from a medical billing job 8 years ago. The year I retired, about 90 percent of the babies born in the hospital located in a White neighborhood were mexicans on medical as we called them, anchor babies. About half were Central and other S Americans.

    Medical reimbursed the hospital $1,100 for a normal birth. patients with insurance paid $14,700. But with 90 percent of the babies being medical anchor babies, the hospital will go bankrupt because it cannot survive on the 10 percent of patients who pay the full cost.

  • Anonymous

    It looks like the restaurant owner, like msot restaurant owners did not have an employee health plan. Most restaurant employees have low incomes and they and their children qualify for medicaid and the free clinics.

    Then when the guy was diagnosed as needing a kidney transplant the restaurant owner got health insurance. But of course the insurance company she tried to con wouldn’t spring for the pre existing condition.

    She, like every restaurant owner in the country employees illegals. I have written about my tenant, a waiter in a restaurant that has about 40 employees, only 7 of which are White Americans. He estimates that there are about 60 to 70 anchor babies among the hispanic illegal employees. Nice big 3 bedroom 2 bath townhouses and single family homes, food stamps, WIC coupons and breakfast, lunch and snack at school, the summer park bag lunches, free day care, medical care and everything else.

    The only expense the illegal restaurant workers have is cars, car expenses, clothes and recreation. Everything else is paid for by the White taxpayer.

    One way to stop illegal immigration would be to close down every restaurant in the country and jail all the owners, franchisees and stock holders. We can’t close down the farms and supermarkets, but closing the restaurants is my dream of immigration reform.

    BTW, I boycott all restaurants. I do shop at supermarkets, but I hate to because I have not seen a White supermarket employee for about 12 years. Even the blacks are africans, not americans.

    It would not be too difficult to raise $40,000. Maybe the owner could donate the money from the taxes she has saved over the years from employing illegals.

  • Anonymous

    There was something on the news this morning. Illegal immigration community organizers have a program where kids write to Obama what they want for Christmas.

    What they want is to stop deportation of anchor babies mommies and daddies. Don’t separate families. sob sob sob

  • Anonymous

    Interesting fact: Shelley Berkeley, a Democrat in Nevada, well, her husband basically has a state monopoly on kidney dialysis. It turns out that he does unnecessary procedures on illegals and bills the taxpayer. Makes one wonder how common this is? If it’s all just a money getting racket.

  • Konnie

    My sister-in-laws brother had some type of cancer when he was a child that damaged his heart. He did have insurance as an adult, but with all his health issues, he maxxed out his ins. at $1,000,000. So, when he needed a heart transplant, guess what he got? Right, NOTHING. DEATH. He died. The nurse apologetically told my sil that recently they had just implanted a heart into a LIFER. Yes, you read that right. We paid for some frickin’ murderer to have a brand-new heart, some POS that didn’t even deserve to draw another breath. I hope all these illegals and criminals drop dead.

  • Anonymous

    I think the point everyone is missing is the dialysis costs $75,000 for 12 months and the transplant is a one-time cost of $100,000. Other words, 15 months of dialysis costs. Once the transplant is done, no more dialysis costs. Do the dang operation, let the doctors donate their time and services if they wish. As soon as he is ambulatory, ship him, his wife and their 15 kids, plus his brother and all HIS family back to Mexico. Either way the American taxpayer will come out ahead over paying $75,000/year for dialysis for umpity-umpteen years and supporting two illegal families forever.

  • dd

    I suppose it has been lawsuits that has enabled the illegals to get their list of entitlements. Just a symptom of a larger problem. The law is being used to dismantle our civilization one brick at a time. I don’t think authors of the constitution meant for that to happen. To me, it looks more and more that it will take citizen action, beyond law, to restore the balance.

  • Fer de Lance

    Taxpayers to the rescue, or the White Man is Racist!

    I believe there will come a time when our organs will be shanghaied from us against our will. At the moment it is quasi-voluntary. With that in mind, rip up your donor cards, take the “donor” sticker off of your license, make sure “not a donor” is a part of any DNR orders and let your family know firmly and forcefully that YOUR organs are not to be donated. Better yet, put it in writing and give a copy to everyone you know and tell ’em why.

    There is no choice as to where your organs will end up, they may be given to illegal aliens, wealthy foreign nationals, prison inmates or other nonwhites over desperate white patients.

    Fer de Lance

    Dallas, TX

  • Anonymous

    #17

    Problem is if gubmit does the transplant it doesn’t get to continue employing the immigrant from Honduras who operates the dialysis machine.

    There’s a satellite campus of a state hospital less than a mile from my home. It’s mainly a specialized care facility for respiratory ailments as well as general geriatric care, but it also has an ER. Which closed this week and moved back to the hospital’s main campus for consolidation. Because my Somali and Mexican “neighbors” were using it as their free primary care facility and it was losing money like crazy.

    Now, when the Democratic People’s Republic of Washington State is compelled to cut off services to non-White immigrants, you know there’s a big problem.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous 17 wrote: “As soon as he is ambulatory, ship him, his wife and their 15 kids, plus his brother and all HIS family back to Mexico.”

    Ha ha, big mistake. You wait until that time comes. After they have taken all those benefits (transplant,medicare, etc) from the stupid gringo then starts a whole new sob story of how the families must not be separated because it will affect his health. They will get a stupid bleeding heart doctor to sign to this and even demand for more of his family to come from Mexico to help him stabilize from the effects of the grueling operation blah blah blah. None of them will EVER leave and even more will come.

    Give them an inch they take ten miles. NEVER give that inch is the only way.

  • Anonymous

    Do not donate organs. Do not donate used clothes. Never put money in the Salvation Army pot. Do not donate food or toys at Christmas time. It all goes to third world invaders who hate us.

  • Anonymous

    It’s Christmastime and I’m feeling generous. Give him a last dialysis treatment, stabilize him, and send him back. He should get in touch with the loud-mouth Mexican supremacist “actress” Eva Longoria. She’s wealthy, I’m sure she would love to help her compatriot.

  • Auntie Em

    I have good health insurance. The last time I was in an emergency room I arrived at 9:00pm. It was standing-room only full of people of color and taxpayer-provided interpreters (in a predominantly White county.) Most of them had many children with them and did not look affluent. There was a lot of police involvement.

    I was actually concerned for my safety several times during the evening as the people came and went, some of them obviously under the influence and yelling.

    When I was finally served around 4:00am the ER was empty. As a patient whose payment was guaranteed I was pretty ticked off. Could I possibly have been the least ill of everyone there? Or were the staff working to clear the most problematic people out ahead of me?

    As for Angel and his loved ones – I have concern for all suffering people, especially those who are trying to carry their own weight, but not at the expense of my own loved ones. Isn’t that self-destructive? I think so.

    Neither of my middle-aged children can afford health insurance and both work too hard to receive help – which they’d probably be too proud to take anyway.

    I travel to Mexico a couple of times a year and when I do I recognize that, as a tourist, I am often charged higher prices for transportation, lodging, food and other services that the locals receive more cheaply. And I know that I am taking my chances with adequate health care while I am visiting. It’s an informed risk I am willing to take.

    People such as Angel are making risky choices and sometimes those have consequences they need to accept.

  • ninjenise

    It’s really interesting that if an American is injured or becomes ill in Mexico, you have to put up a bond of several thousand dollars before they will even scrape your sorry American butt off the pavement, but here in the USA a non-citizen can get “free” medical treatment indefinitely.

  • Anonymous

    Problem is, this doesn’t stop with simply transplanting a kidney thus allowing this man to go on his merry way. He is then subjected to a lifetime of anti-rejection medications that don’t provide a 100% guarantee he will not reject his new kidney, plus the potential costs if he rejects his new kidney for which he would have to go back to receiving dialysis treatments. I also work in a hospital where the majority of our patients are Hispanics and for the most part, they are non-compliant with their health care. We recently had a young hispanic patient in kidney failure that required dialysis and we had to keep the patient, provide the patient with dialysis treatments three times a week until their MediCal application was approved, providing them with free health care. Now the patient–mind you, the patient couldn’t speak a lick of English and is in this country illegally–has access to outpatient dialysis three times a week. This is why health care is so expensive and why small hospitals and outpatient dialysis centers are closing their doors. They simply cannot afford the costs.

  • Mr.White

    21 — Anonymous wrote at 3:41 PM on December 22:

    Anonymous 17 wrote: “As soon as he is ambulatory, ship him, his wife and their 15 kids, plus his brother and all HIS family back to Mexico.”

    Ha ha, big mistake. You wait until that time comes. After they have taken all those benefits (transplant,medicare, etc) from the stupid gringo then starts a whole new sob story of how the families must not be separated because it will affect his health. They will get a stupid bleeding heart doctor to sign to this and even demand for more of his family to come from Mexico to help him stabilize from the effects of the grueling operation blah blah blah. None of them will EVER leave and even more will come.

    Give them an inch they take ten miles. NEVER give that inch is the only way.

    ———————————————————-

    Ditto! It never ends with illegal invaders and the time to “leave” never comes! Their enablers and apologists have one SOB story after another as to why they should not be repatriated to their country of citizenship, which is usually Mexico. Suggesting as much is deemed “racist, xenophobic, heartless, intolerant, bigoted, mean-spirited,” etc! The list goes on and on in perpetuity.

    They have a penchant for taking any act of kindness and turning it into an entitlement! This behavior is not the exception with these criminals, but rather the norm. They come from a lawless and corrupted third-world country, where dishonesty and lying are an accepted part of their culture. Their lawlessness and corruption do not stop at the Rio Grande!

  • Tom S.

    #17 – I think the point everyone is missing is the dialysis costs $75,000 for 12 months and the transplant is a one-time cost of $100,000. Other words, 15 months of dialysis costs. Once the transplant is done, no more dialysis costs. Do the dang operation-

    No, you’re missing the point! There would also be no dialysis costs if they DEPORT him! The bigger point is that he shouldn’t be getting diaysis OR the “dang” operation!

  • Anonymous

    “Angel and his brother, a deli worker, would have to sneak back in through the desert. If they failed, they would be cut off from their children in Brooklyn, who are United States citizens.”

    Ms. Bernstein, are you unaware that Angel and his brother’s kids are also Mexican citizens. There is no reason for them to be “cut off from their children in Brooklyn” as they can take their Mexican citizen kids with them to Mexico. You aren’t suggesting that Mexican citizens shouldn’t go to Mexico, are you?