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Hospital denies life saving surgery to immigrant

The story of one undocumented immigrant from Mexico reads like some kind of odd application of the Perfect Storm. Multiple forces have stacked up against the man's very survival. The story does not come from here in Florida, but from the West Coast. An immigration I-9 audit of the company where the man worked resulted in the immigrant finding himself without a job. The man has been undergoing dialysis for roughly eight years due to kidney failure. Doctors say that the life-expectancy of someone in his condition is about six years.

Last spring, before he lost his job, the immigrant picked up the phone at home and learned that he reached the top of the list for an organ transplant. He went through the motions and eventually the hospital decided not to perform the transplant. Hospital administrators learned of the man's immigration status, and declined to perform the surgery.

Then the I-9 compliance audit came along and the man was let go from his foundry job that he had been performing for 14 years. Out of work, the immigrant continued to deal with his kidney disease. Thankfully, he still has medical insurance through his former employer, despite the termination.

The man found his own willing kidney donor. His wife offered to give her husband a kidney. The couple proposed the idea to the hospital. While the ill man has medical insurance and a suitable kidney donor, the West Coast hospital declined to perform the surgery. The man's current health insurance may run out, although he is seeking an extension. For now, his insurance is available to cover the surgery.

Hospital administrators declined to perform the surgery because they do not have a guarantee that the immigrant will be able to pay for the aftercare associated with a transplant. Some advocates who have criticized the hospital for its decision say that many patients who have legal status fail to follow their post-surgical plan. The hospital is refusing the surgery due to the future possibility that the man may not be able to pay for future anti-rejection medication and associated treatment.

Source: MSNBC, "Hospital denies kidney transplant to illegal immigrant," Chris Roberts, Feb. 1, 2012

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