Jonathan Garcia has a long fight ahead of him. His kidneys don’t work and he needs a transplant to survive, but now Northwell Health, North Shore University Hospital has agreed to assess him for that surgery.
“When we talked last time, you were suicidal,” I said as we sat inside his home.
“Right,” Johnathan said.
“Not anymore,” Johnathan said. “I see life another way. I keep fighting.”
Garcia illegally crossed the border from Mexico with his mother and sister when he was child and is living in the shadows as an undocumented immigrant.
Northwell has been treating Garcia with dialysis, but, as NY1 reported 12 days ago, the hospital said that it would not consider him for a transplant because he is at risk of deportation.
But then the hospital had a change of heart.
“Maybe because they feel, like, pressure. Maybe because a reporter asked why they can’t do it without a social security number, and they decided to do it,” Garcia said.
The hospital was concerned that, if Garcia were removed from the country, he would not be able to get the followup health care and anti-viral medication he needs, putting his life in even more danger. But after NY1’s first story on him aired, the hospital reversed course.
“I received a call from the hospital saying they’re trying to help me with the operation and have price of medicine for the kidney,” Johnathan said. “I was surprised because everything was falling apart and now it’s getting better.”
Now, the 26-year-old thinks he might have a future after all.
His parents' apartment is filled with messages of hope, prayer, and family.
“I feel more alive. I have energy. I don’t feel sad, depressed. I feel more alive,” he said.
The next step is to assess Garcia’s 20-year-old sister to see if her kidney would be a match. He says the hospital is just waiting for him to give the go-ahead, something he’s been wrestling with because he’s afraid to compromise his sister’s health.
But he says he knows it’s the right thing to do: not to miss this opportunity.