Everyone has problems with immigration based on ideals or wishes or the Constitution or something.
Dr. Harry Senekjian, an Ogden kidney specialist, has a problem based on life-and-death reality.
"I'm stuck telling this lady to go home and die," he told me Monday.
He has tried. He really doesn't see any way out.
Dr. Senekjian sent me a letter titled "I need your help with my patient," describing a woman, 24, who is not only sick but who also has a very politically incorrect problem.
She was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 9. She is now 24, with three children who are U.S. citizens and a husband who is not.
She was admitted to a local hospital in the eighth month of pregnancy, suffering from a condition called pre-eclampsia that killed her unborn child and stopped her kidneys.
"She is now hospitalized requiring dialysis treatments with the kidney machine," Dr. Senekjian said. "Until and if her kidneys recover function, she requires dialysis to maintain life, and she would die if the treatments are not provided."
U.S. law provides essentially free dialysis to all American citizens and legal residents, whether insured or not. But this woman is not here legally. This is not her fault. She was brought here as a child, too young to have any voice in the matter.
Because the U.S. cannot agree on a way for her to get legal status, she's stuck. In the virulent climate surrounding immigration today, she's likely to stay stuck.
But "stuck" is a death sentence. Dialysis costs $10,000 a month.
"Unfortunately, I cannot find a dialysis provider who will accept her as an outpatient, even though she does not require hospitalization," Dr. Senekjian wrote.
Dialysis providers take free patients at times, but none can help this woman because they're doing all the freebies they can.
"Thus I am left with the options of (a) sending her home to die, (b) having her go back to Mexico in spite of her having no financial ability to do so (as well as lack of access in Mexico for her treatments), (c) sending her to California where her family lives (without finances to transport her there or any guarantee that she will receive the needed treatments there), or (d) keeping her in the hospital indefinitely."
There is a fifth, very cruel, option.
"I have also been told that one could send her home and have her come back to the emergency room when she 'gets sick' to receive treatment."
Let her get sick so that, by law, the emergency room has to treat her? As a doctor, he finds that unacceptable.
So what can he do?
"The good outcome would be if somebody would give this lady care," Dr. Senekjian told me.
"This is my immediate problem. I can't worry about the national implications or even the state implications. I have to deal with the nuts-and-bolts day-to-day problems. The providers who do dialysis have expenses. They can't do it for free."
We, a supposedly good and kind people, have created Dr. Senekjian's problem because we refuse to solve our immigration problem in a humane manner. People scream "what part of illegal don't you understand?!" We point fingers, place blame, argue and debate.
Dr. Senekjian doesn't have time for debate. He needs an answer today.
"I am crying for help and would be happy to have anyone who has a reasonable suggestion come forward," he said.
Anyone? Dr. Senekjian is listening. His number is 801-479-1117.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.