SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Time is running out for a 35-year-old Oakland welder who is suffering from failing kidneys and fighting to get a surgery that could save his life.

Jesus Navarro needs a transplant. He has insurance, and his wife wants to donate a kidney, but University of California, San Francisco won’t do the transplant. Navarro is an undocumented worker from Mexico who spoke to CBS 5 through a translator.

“I’m worried that I might fall ill, or something might happen to me. I’m worried what might happen to my daughter,” said Navarro, whose daughter is 3-years-old. “I was mad and sad at the same time. I assumed that they were here to help save lives.”

Navarro has been in the U.S. for over 15 years. Although UCSF insists his immigration status is not the reason for the rejection, it is a significant part of the decision. The hospital released a statement which included the following:

UCSF does not reject potential transplant patients based on their immigration status and has performed transplants on undocumented individuals…Undocumented individuals have no access to Medicare and may have limited access to Medi-Cal for critical long-term care.

Stanford ethicist David Magnus said he’s surprised by the medical center’s stance.

“You have to do a full evaluation of the psycho social system, how far do they live from hospital, do they have transportation to the hospital, are they able to make appointments,” said Magnus, PhD/Professor of Biomedical Ethics. “Simply relying on immigration status is not enough to rule someone out for a transplant.”

The case is getting a lot of attention, thanks to the efforts of Donald Kagan, who launched a petition campaign on

“If you have kidney failure, you are going to die. I’m one of the lucky people to have gotten a transplant. It’s my job now to give back to those that aren’t quite as lucky,” said Kagan.

Navarro said he hopes the support leads to a resolution.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (32)
  1. Lexie Gabrielle says:

    I hope that he gets his surgery. We all have the right to live and this surgery will save his life. How can UCSF deny it? He has insurance, even if he is illegaly here he works and won’t get anything for free. I am tired of seeing negligence from the hospitals, many people are left to die because they don’t have insurance oor because of their legal status here. I thought that Doctors had the compromise to save lives, but I see that that has changed. Please lets support him, he deserves a better life.

    1. Jake says:

      I thought that Doctors had the compromise to save lives, but I see that that has changed. Please lets support him, he deserves a better life

      Dude…first of all…your comments show that you failed to graduate from high school. If you want the guy to have surgery then pay for it. The guy needs long term care that he cannot afford. He says he has insurance, but how much coverage does he have really? You sick liberals want everyone to give you hand outs when you guys are too lazy to work for the things you want/need. Tax the rich to feed the lazy and incompetent…..what a life you lousy liberals have!

  2. Martizian says:

    This is not a matter of legal vs. Illegal. This is a matter of ethics and what this country stands for. By denying this mandate the right to life, we are going against our core values as a nation which is compassion. I believe that immigation reform as much as the next guy, but I also believe that when someone is in trouble, we as Americans need to step up and do them right thing.

    1. Jake says:

      It’s funny how you hypocritical liberals don’t agree with people who stand up for their views when they differ from yours.

      Listen I know you never took an ethics class based on the words you use but lets get this straight the reason he is denied the surgery is his ability to pay (unless you want to foot the bill for the rest of his life). Once deported there is no guarantee that he can get the high level of care back home in Mexico.

      We as Americans are stepping up and “do them right thing” as you so eloquently put it. We are stepping up for what is right and not let you bully liberals push us around. We won’t cave like the Komen foundation. Standing up for one’s beliefs is more important than pandering to a bunch of losers for funding.

  3. PLW says:

    I understand Navarro has been on a waiting list for 5 years and is receiving kidney dialysis which can go on for a lifetime. His daughter is three years old so his reproduction system works. He won’t lack medical care in the United States, so he can survive here and get on a waiting list in his own country. Just because a person is illegal does not give him the right to replace a legal American citizen on the waiting list…. Let the the Liberals spend their own time and money on the illegal immigrants if that is what they want……

    1. WLP says:

      His wife is willing to donate.

    2. jayne says:

      First off, race has nothing to do with it. Are you so ignorant that you don’t realize that thus country is comprised of citizens and legal residents of EVERY race?

      If he has the money and a donor then why can’t he can go to Mexico and have the surgery there? That is the country where he is a legal resident.

      I would never have the audacity to (for example) illegally enter Germany or England and expect them to give me the courtesy they extend to legal residents. That would be absurd. This country can’t take care of its legal residents let alone rewarding the law breaking illegals.

      1. jmorgan says:

        For once there is a calm and intelligent person who thinks before they write!! You took the words right out of my mouth. As a white female who grew-up in CA, going through a divorce with two children and perm. disibilities- he gets food stamps and legal aide first and I am lucky if I get any!!

  4. Chris says:

    Every human being gets sick. Decisions regarding who lives or die should never be based on race. I just signed the petition and I wish more will do so in hopes that it leads to a resolution.

    1. Jake says:

      Chris…you are an idiot! Why do liberals always use the race card when they cannot get their way? You should stop speaking. You will look more foolish than you already are. There is no certainty that they guy will live a long life even with a kidney transplant even if the wife is willing to donate…..after all she is not a blood relative (at least I hope not). The issue is not race…but ability to pay. Why do close-minded liberals always think otherwise?

  5. Larry Hardheart says:

    Dire as this situation is, it does not sound like a medical emergency. Mr. Navarro could and should return to the country of his citizenship for the surgery. It is unfair to expect UCSF to essentially donate $100,000 in medical services. If I developed a critical medical condition while traveling in Mexico or Canada, I would return to the U.S. for care. I would not expect Mexico or Canada to absorb the cost of treatment.

    1. Lexie says:

      Mr. Navarro has health insurance!!!

  6. shola says:

    Kidney failure is not a death sentence. Mr. Navarro should understand and respect the process like thousands of Americans with this disease.

    There are thousands of people in this country with kidney failure (e.g. renal disease) that are on dialysis as means to replace their kidney function. UCSF has due cause in its decision not to perform Navarro’s transplant. Several requirements must be fufilled before a patient can be approved for a transplant. Selection Criteria involves 1) Diagnosis for renal failure, 2) Surgical evalulation, 3) Medical evaluation history and physical, 4) Social Worker evaluaton, 5) History of Drug/Alchohol Abuse.

    Also a Medication evaluaton will be required. How will Mr. Navarro pay for post transplant medications? These anti-rejection medications cost more than $4000 a month so that the donor kidney is not rejected. Does Mr. Navarro have the means to maintain treatment? If not, the new kidney will fail and its back to square one.

    I’m also waiting for a transplant, but respecting the process.

  7. Sara Niles says:

    Life is Life and should be valued as such; when we make life and death decisions based upon skin color, social class or whether one has a certain piece of paper in possession, we risk losing progress as a nation-hard earned progress.

    Now who was it that valued life according to ethnic class?….oh Yeah…Hitler

  8. rich arnold says:

    The problem with these kinds of stories is the media never gives both side of the stories. Does Mr. Navarro 15 years illegal in this country pay income tax. Who pays if his insurance does not cover all of his medical expenses: we the taxpayers. We all sympathize with his situation but medical providers have to make decisions that take in factors most us don’t know anything about. It is too easy to jump to conclusions about UC’s motives.

  9. Get Real says:

    Why not recruit health victims from all over the world; and then dump them at the hospitals! Sorry the GUY IS HERE ILLEGAL and oir Vietnam VETS and IRAQ VETS do not get the attention this guy gets!

    1. Justin Goble says:

      your an idiot

      1. Lex Icon says:

        Calling someone an idiot when you yourself are incapable of using the correct spelling of you’re is irony at it’s finest.

  10. Wanda Berger says:

    Hey, he just came here to put food on the table for his family … and get a free kidney operation and followup care on California taxpayers and no doubt financial assistance while recuperating.
    Even if he is turned down we are on the hook for $44,000 per year for dialysis costs.
    California is rolling in the gravy, We can afford that! ‘Course, the parks are closing and people are losing their homes, but what that heck, every Mexican should be able to thrive just by electing to come here.
    But then we could always enforce our immigration laws and repatriate the gentleman.

    1. Justin Goble says:

      wanda your an idiot > the guy works and pays taxex and has insurance

      1. Bobby says:

        Justin, you’re an idiot. He stole a job by using a fake SSN, his insurance is worthless because he lied on his papers. Send him packing.

      2. Javier says:

        Justin- it’s “you’re” and not “your”. Example: Justin, YOU’RE an idiot.

    2. Lex Icon says:

      It is VERY hard to become a legal citizen here. This guy is doing everything right, he works, has insurance, cares for his family, pays taxes etc. He is a fully contributing member of society except for the issue of not being ‘legal.’ If we as a nation are willing to accept his tax dollars for 15 years we should also be willing to allow him equal access to medical care.

  11. Bobby says:

    The only thing that should be donated is a ticket back to Mexico. He is ILLEGAL! If he can’t get it there, digging a hole in the desert is cheap.

    1. Justin Goble says:

      bobby and javier you guys are haters and you sound like the tipical california trash that sits around and plays xbox all day . and javier you are a real genius to figure out i spelled your wrong instead of you’re right .

      1. Javier says:

        I really hope that English is your second language. I don’t play xbox. I suggest Hooked on Phonics for you. Learn to read and write if you want to be taken seriously.

        He made his choices. He chose not to emigrate legally. He chose to defraud a health insurance company. He chose to bring a wife and child into it. Now he needs to choose to do the right thing and own up to his choices.

        There are very capable transplant surgeons and top rated medical centers in Mexico. Does Donald Kagan care about this man’s life or headlines? Maybe he should be using this valuable time and media attention to raise funds to pay for the surgery in Mexico, where the money would go a long way.

      2. Lexie says:

        Javier, if he decided to come here illegaly it’s because he didn’t have another option, we don’t know what made him risk his life coming here. And for your information, some people that are born here don’t even speak proper English because they speak more than one language or they just can’t. At least he speaks Spanish and some English which makes him bilingual. Anyway, you never know if you will ever be in is shoes.

  12. Javier says:

    15 years and he still needs a translator? I know people that have learnt English from totally dissimilar languages (Russian and Korean) in a few years.

  13. Chief says:

    A responsible and moral person does not enter a country illegally or have a child despite being illegal and seriously ill. What kind of ‘man’ is this?

  14. Cambion7 says:

    What I find interesting is those who hope he gets the surgery, they seem to neglect the one basic fact. Someone else who is here LEGALLY and in need of the same transplant deserves the surgery over an illegal alien. Now if the intended organs are going to go bad and be thrown away, nobody else in line, then by all means, give it to him. But let’s give preferential treatment to those who are here legally.

  15. CarlT says:

    The man’s wife is willing to donate a kidney and he has insurance. What is the problem? Give the man his surgery so he can go on with his life. As far as him not being here legally, I don’t think that has much bearing in this particular situation because his wife is the donor and she is not just donating to anyone. It’s not like someone else is missing an opportunity because she is only willing to donate to her husband.