America: Medical Welcome Mat To The World


No one can deny that the plight of
Jesica Santillan, the sick teenager who

mistakenly
received organs at Duke University from a
donor with a different blood type, is a sad one.

But we cannot ignore the tough
public policy questions in Jesica`s case that the

sob-story writers
at the New York Times
prefer to paper over:

When resources are scarce, as the
supply of voluntarily donated organs notoriously are,
why shouldn`t U.S. citizens get top priority?

According to national figures, 16
patients die in the U.S. each day while waiting for a
potentially life-saving transplant operation. How many
American patients currently on the national organ
waiting list were denied access to healthy hearts and
lungs as a result of Santillan`s two transplant
surgeries? Who will tell their stories?

Finally, if Jesica recovers from
the

second heart-lung transplant
, will any

federal immigration authority
have the guts to
enforce the law and send her and her family back home to
Mexico?

According to Times reporter
Denise Grady, “Ms. Santillan`s family moved from
Mexico to North Carolina three years ago in hopes that
she could be treated at Duke for restrictive
cardiomyopathy, which caused an enlarged, weakened heart
and damaged lungs.”  
[Test
Does Not Bar 2nd Transplant
By DENISE GRADY, NYT,
February 20, 2003]

But as other media outlets have
more accurately and honestly detailed, Santillan`s
family didn`t just “move” here. They came here illegally
by paying a coyote $5,000 to

smuggle Santillan and her mother
across the border
for the express purpose of obtaining medical care and
circumventing long wait times in Mexico.

A North Carolina businessman,

Mack Mahoney
, founded a

private charity
to raise funds for Santillan`s
transplants. But the charity cannot replace the organs
that were used in Santillan`s surgeries. Those hearts
and lungs are not fungible.

In all likelihood, taxpayers will
be on the hook for Santillan`s post-operative care one
way or another. Transplant patients must take
immunosuppressant medications for the life of the
transplanted organs, for example. Typical

costs
of post-transplant drugs may be as much as
$2,500 per month in the first year alone. And as we all
know, Santillan`s botched operation was far from
typical. Her illegal immigrant parents will probably

sue
Duke University, adding further to this case`s

surgery-related costs
.

The

United Network for Organ Sharing,
the non-profit
group that

coordinates
the nation`s transplant system, has
established a policy [PDF]
that no more than 5 percent of the organs transplanted
at any hospital are allowed to go to illegal immigrants
or foreign nationals. But when medical facilities have
tried to deny organ transplants to illegal aliens, they
have been met with a political and media uproar. Last
summer, for example, the Cleveland Clinic was pressured
by a local Hispanic city councilman into admitting an

illegal immigrant from Guatemala
for a liver
transplant after initially turning her away.

The costs of illegal alien health
care are

crippling hospitals
across the country. In North
Carolina, where Santillan`s family has settled, a
Medicaid emergency services program averages 221 new
cases every month involving immigrants, many of them
illegal, at a cost of about $32 million. As the
Washington Times
reported recently
,
dozens of hospitals in the 28 counties along the
U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and
California have either closed their doors or face
bankruptcy because of losses caused by uncompensated
care given to illegal immigrants.

Scripps Memorial Hospital in San
Diego was

forced to close
after losing more than $5 million a
year in unreimbursed medical care, much of it for
illegal immigrants, Times reporter Jerry Seper
noted. The

Southeast Medical Center in Douglas, Ariz
., is on
the verge of bankruptcy because of uncompensated care to
undocumented aliens; the Cochise County, Ariz., Health
Department spends as much as 30 percent of its annual $9
million budget on undocumented aliens; and the
University Medical Center in Tucson will spend up to $10
million this year providing

uncompensated alien health care
.


New York
medical providers have performed dozens of
organ-transplant operations – and even sex-change
operations—to illegal aliens. The costs of such
“charity” care typically are shifted to insured
patients, resulting in higher health insurance premiums.

In a world of scarce resources,
compassion must have limits. We cannot

afford
to be a medical welcome mat to the world.


Michelle Malkin is author of


Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists,
Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores
.

Click here
for Peter Brimelow`s review.
Click here
for Michelle Malkin`s website.

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