An Oakland father who was denied the transplant he needs to live because of his immigration status now has a host of supporters.
After reading a story by this newspaper about his plight this week, city leaders, immigration lawyers, advocacy organizations and individual residents began looking for ways to help save the 35-year-old's life.
Jesus Navarro has a donor match in his wife and private insurance to pay for a kidney transplant. But UC San Francisco Medical Center refuses to perform the operation because administrators cannot be sure he will be able to afford follow-up care given his status as an illegal immigrant.
On Tuesday, a number of residents from San Jose to Brentwood to Phoenix, Ariz., pledged their time and money to help Navarro, who has a 3-year-old daughter.
Among them was Donald Kagan, who is a partner at a Berkeley technology firm. He received a kidney transplant at UCSF in 2010.
"Ever since then, I feel like I need to give back to those that aren't as fortunate as I am," he said.
Kagan met with Navarro on Tuesday and worked with a social worker to make sure he will be able to keep up his private insurance. Navarro was caught up in an immigration audit and lost his job at Berkeley's Pacific Steel, where he worked for 14 years.
Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente and San Jose Councilman Donald Rocha also pledged their help.
The Bay Area's Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights is preparing a delegation of faith leaders to discuss transplant issues with UCSF.
The national petition group Change.org is also interested in helping lobby the hospital. Change.org is best known for launching the campaign that helped convince Bank of America to drop its monthly debit-card fee plan.
"What caught my attention was that it's such an urgent story," said Jackie Mahendra, director of Organizing for Immigrant Rights. "Without a kidney, this man will actually die."
Navarro, who had not had any contact with nonprofit groups before this week, said he was overwhelmed by the show of support.
"I'm just grateful for everything," he said.
Contact Hannah Dreier at 510-262-2787. Follow her at Twitter.com/hannahdreier.
Those interested in helping the family can Navarro's friends at 510-982-0604.