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Liver transplants for illegal aliens: Entitlements + open borders = disaster

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 14, 2008 10:11 AM

I’ve written before about organ transplants for illegal aliens–and been attacked by the usual socialist suspects as cruel, heartless, and racist for questioning the wisdom of US public policy that indiscriminately allocates scarce health resources at taxpayer expense to illegal immigrants. The open-borders entitlement mentality has only grown deeper since the last time this issue went national with the case of Jessica Santillan. The ideologues who believe that America should be the medical welcome mat to the world have prevailed. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Ana Puente was an infant with a liver disorder when her aunt brought her illegally to the U.S. to seek medical care. She underwent two liver transplants at UCLA Medical Center as a child in 1989 and a third in 1998, each paid for by the state.

But when Puente turned 21 last June, she aged out of her state-funded health insurance and was unable to continue treatment at UCLA.

This year, her liver began failing again and she was hospitalized at County-USC Medical Center. In her Medi-Cal application, a USC doctor wrote, “Her current clinical course is irreversible, progressive and will lead to death without another liver transplant.” The application was denied.

The county gave her medication but does not have the resources to perform transplants.

Late last month Puente learned of another, little-known option for patients with certain healthcare needs. If she notified U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that she was in the country illegally, state health officials might grant her full Medi-Cal coverage. Puente did so, her benefits were restored and she is now awaiting a fourth transplant at UCLA.

Puente’s case highlights two controversial issues: Should illegal immigrants receive liver transplants in the U.S. and should taxpayers pick up the cost?

The average cost of a liver transplant and first-year follow-up is nearly $490,000, and anti-rejection medications can run more than $30,000 annually, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees transplantation nationwide.

Donor livers are also in scarce supply. In California, nearly 3,700 people are on a waiting list for livers, according to the network. Last year, 767 liver transplants were performed in the state. More than 90% of the organs were given to U.S. citizens.

Donor livers are generally allocated through a geographically based distribution system on the basis of how sick the patients are and how long they have been on the transplant waiting list.

Immigration status does not play a role in allocating organs.

Doctors and illegal alien patients rely on DHS incompetence and the deportation abyss to abet them:

If illegal immigrants inform the state in writing that U.S. immigration services “is aware of their presence and does not plan to deport them,” they could be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal, said Norman Williams, spokesman for the state health department. Medical condition is one factor that would make immigrants eligible for coverage.

The immigrants send a form to Citizenship and Immigration Services, but the agency said it does not respond to patients or make any promises about their immigration status.

And the game continues, with illegal immigrants now voicing indignation at the inconvenience:

Jose Lopez said he came to the U.S. with his mother illegally as a child. Soon after, he contracted hepatitis A and received his first liver transplant. Eight years later, he got cirrhosis and received another transplant.

Both were performed at UCLA and paid for by the state.

As his 21st birthday approached, his mother, Maria Elena Lopez, searched for clinics that might agree to treat her son. She applied for Medi-Cal for him but has not received a response.

Her son turned 21 on Aug. 7. He said the UCLA doctors gave him extra medications to hold him over.

About a month later, his mother found the Roybal clinic, which provided Lopez with medication and monitored his care. Though his drugs never lapsed, his liver is still in rejection.

“I’m just mad,” he said from the Los Angeles apartment he shares with his parents. “You can’t just leave a person to die. That’s pretty much what they’re telling me: ‘You’re illegally here. We’re just gonna let you die.’ ”

He said he doesn’t blame UCLA for not wanting to treat him free, but added, “I was hoping for some miracle.”

Lopez just learned about the relief Puente received and said he may follow the same route. He hopes to return to UCLA for treatment.

Question: Would the Mexican government stand for illegal aliens on its soil demanding such entitlement?

Hell, no.

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