Wife of formerly comatose Mexican immigrant to critics: Life beyond pulling the plug
9OYS: Immigration Watch
Reporter: Steve Nuñez
PHOENIX (KGUN9-TV) - Jesus Cornelio was not expected to ever wake up from his coma. His wife Evelyn claims doctors gave her two options: pull the plug or the hospital would deport him back to Mexico.
Some 9 On Your Side viewers sided with the hospital because Jesus was uninsured and unable to pay for his extensive care. But then something happened that wasn't supposed to, Jesus awoke from his coma.
Today, the 23-year-old is still not fully recovered. "I just see very blurry," said Cornelio. "I can recognize everything but I don't see very well." But seven weeks later, Jesus is now talking more, walking, kicking a soccer ball around, living at home and thankful just to be alive. "To everyone who prayed for me and to GOD also," said Cornelio.
Even his wife Evelyn now believes in miracles. "If we believed in GOD, now we have proof of it," said Evelyn. Jesus suffered an aneurysm while playing soccer. He went without oxygen for about ten minutes and fell into a coma.
Evelyn claims Good Samaritan in Phoenix, at first, pressured her to remove Jesus from life support and place him in a hospice for the few days it would take for him to die or send him back to Mexico where he could continue receiving care on the Mexican Government's dime.
"The decisions they were making me think, not giving my husband hope, that was just horrifying," said Evelyn.
Jesus' case then became a lightning rod for debate on two of the nation's most controversial issues: immigration reform and health care reform.
The Mexican immigrant, who was in the country legally on a work visa, was not eligible for state-funded health care because he's not a U.S. Citizen.
On top of that, Evelyn told 9 On Your Side Jesus' medical bills had exceeded $120,000. So far, she's paid about $5,000, in large part, because of community donations.
"We're going to take care of it some way some how," claimed Evelyn.
And, just when critics called for Evelyn to pull the plug, Jesus came out of his coma.
"I just remember when I woke up," said Jesus. "Well, I wasn't confused because I really realized I was in the hospital but I was very sad."
Jesus said he was sad because he knew physically his life may never be the same again.
But, he remained hopeful he wouldn't face deportation after INS granted him his green card while in the hospital.
Still, Evelyn says life, above all, should be the lesson learned. Now she wants the laws changed to allow immigrants going through the process the legal to be allowed to buy their way into the system.
"For example, you take your car out anywhere you need insurance just for that vehicle so why not just get insurance for humans, same thing," said Evelyn.
Meantime, doctors told Jesus he'll soon be able to run again. For now, he's getting a kick out of enjoying the simple things in life.
"I'm just very anxious to play soccer again," said Jesus as he kicked a soccer ball around.
Evelyn said, "It's his second chance at life for him but it's also the beginning for us."
Now that Jesus is a legal resident, he's now insured through Evelyn's healthcare plan.
As for his hospital bills? The Cornelio's told 9 On Your Side they plan to pay back the hospital with whatever money they can pay. But since Jesus is not able to return to work just yet, they admit it will take many more years to pay off their mounting medical bills.