Thousands and thousand of people have signed a petition urging the UC San Francisco Medical Center to perform a kidney transplant for an undocumented immigrant.

Jesus Navarro, a 35-year-old Oakland resident and father, was denied the kidney transplant he needs to live because of his immigration status, even though he has a willing donor and currently has private insurance. He has been using a home dialysis machine to cleanse his blood of lethal toxins for eight years.

"UCSF hospital has told Jesus that the only reason he would not be able to get a transplant is because of his immigration status," says an online petition at "As I see it, this is a matter of life and death."

"Jesus has received hundreds of messages of support stating that he should be allowed to receive a transplant. Immigration status should not determine someone's fate."

The petition has received more than 130,000 signatures.

The hospital said it is unwilling to perform a transplant for Navarro because it is uncertain whether he can afford immunosuppressive drugs to prevent his body from rejecting the new kidney.

After nearly six years, he reached the top of a waiting list for a kidney transplant in spring. But Navarro lost his job in January because of an immigration audit and his private insurance will soon run out. His wife has offered her kidney to save Navarro, but the hospital still refuses to operate.

"UCSF's policy for financial clearance requires candidates to present evidence of adequate and stable insurance coverage or other financial sources necessary to sustain follow-up care long after transplant surgery," the hospital said in a statement. "Immigration status is among many factors taken into consideration."

When Navarro loses his private insurance, he could end up on California's Medi-Cal program. While Medi-Cal will continue to provide him with dialysis, it will not pay for costly immunosuppressive drugs.

Photo credit: Irvin Calicut