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Tuesday, April 15th 2008

Immigrant Transplants


Get This In Mexico, Get A Liver Transplant Here

Should illegal immigrants get transplants in the United States and should taxpayers pay for them? Discuss amongst yourselves.

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.

Now this young lady is getting a fourth transplant.

Here are the two arguments made, summed up in a sentence each. For restricting illegal immigrant access to organs,

“All transplants are about rationing,” said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA

For transplanting illegal immigrants,

“People are people, and when you make an incision in an organ donor, you don’t find little American flags planted on their organs,” [Dr. Michael] Shapiro said.

I’m torn by the issue. There really are two separate issues here and I think, despite some ethicists opinions to the contrary, that I can separate the two. From a bioethical standpoint, I think as long as we’re going to allocate organs through a central sharing process (and notice that I’m a long time supporter of targeted donation and actually a donor’s right to sell their organs) that such should be done on need and independent of citizenship or alien status. But I really don’t think, as in most instances, that tax dollars have any place supporting illegal immigrants.

Sovereignty is important. While their odds are no doubt much worse in their home countries that is where these illegal immigrants should be seeking their organ donations. Or they should be seeking legal immigration into this country.

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