Man’s Immigration Status Puts Kidney Transplant on Hold

KTVU, February 5, 2012

A social media campaign is growing for a 35-year-old Oakland man who claims UCSF is denying him kidney transplant surgery because he’s an illegal immigrant.

Jesus Navarro, slowly dying from kidney failure, said he fears he won’t live to see his 3-year-old daughter grow up.

“I had insurance,” Navarro said. “I had work. I had everything.”

After 6-and-half years on the kidney transplant recipient list, Navarro made it to the top only to find out surgery would be unlikely because he wouldn’t be able to afford the lifetime of follow up care required.

As an undocumented worker, Navarro is not entitled to Medicare, which often picks up the bulk of the costs.


Advocate Donald Kagan said UCSF should perform the transplant surgery, because it’s the right thing to do.

“He’s paid his taxes, he’s waited his time on the list,” Kagan said. “He’s done everything he’s supposed to do.”

UCSF disagrees. The hospital said it does not make decisions based on immigration status.

Instead, spokesman said that because there’s such a shortage of organs, the ethical thing to do is make sure it’s given to the person with the best chance of long term survival and that includes the necessary follow-up care.



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