Front paged at the New York Times today is the jaw-dropping story of Angel, a New York waiter and undocumented immigrant who may soon die because he doesn’t have the money for a kidney transplant. You should really read the whole story here.
Angel, a husband and father of two in his early 30s, has been battling late-stage renal disease without health insurance and without papers for almost two years. His condition, likely passed down from his father, who died of kidney failure when Angel was 8, suddenly flared up in January 2010, raising enormous complications in a life where Angel had been quietly working, supporting his mother and half-siblings, paying taxes, and learning English.
His brother volunteered to donate a kidney, but without legal status or insurance, there is no way they can afford the $100,000 operation.
Through a quirk of history, nearly all Americans suffering from late-stage renal disease, regardless of insurance status, are covered under federal Medicare for dialysis and transplantation. Some of these benefits extend to undocumented immigrants—the government is willing to pay for a lifetime of dialysis for Angel at $75,000 a year. But it is not willing to cover the $100,000 one-time cost of transplantation.