By Mariana Sofía Garcia @sofiggarcia March 3, 2021
“We have only one dialysis nurse”, “Reactivate transplants now” and “Out of 15 machines, six work”, the mothers and women caregivers of the Nephrology service patients wrote on banners to express their requests this Wednesday, March 3 at door of the JM de los Ríos.
Caracas. The history of deaths in the nephrology service of the JM de los Ríos hospital weighs on the shoulders of mothers who continue to fight for the lives of their children: 23 children and adolescents have died for three years, just when the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to protect these pediatric patients.
Karla, Carina, Leidimar, Frandison, Víctor, Eliandres, Eliézer, Deivis and Daniel are some of the deceased in the Nephrology service since 2017. Now, there are other patients who are resisting together with their mothers to be able to live, such as Daniel León and Dayrin Da Costa.
“My son is the one who gives me the strength to continue, although he, at 13 years old, sometimes gets depressed by the situation in the country,” said Daniel León’s mother. In the J. M. de los Ríos, the Nephrology service laboratory does not work and the central laboratory is often closed due to lack of reagents. Most exams have to be done in private centers and the cheapest costs five dollars.
The bill increases when there are mothers who live in the interior of the country and travel to have their children receive dialysis at the children’s hospital. Belkis Silva needs at least three dollars to move from Barlovento to Caracas. Most of the time he does it by asking for a line because it costs him a lot to get money. That means getting up as early as possible, because dialysis on the first shift starts at 8:00 a.m. m.
Little has changed in the hospital since three years ago when they obtained the precautionary measures of the IACHR for the Nephrology service after an infectious outbreak and, later, an expansion that included 13 other hospital services that are also in poor condition . The Venezuelan State has ignored the requests of the relatives so that they are guaranteed medicines, transplants, treatments, health personnel, public services and that they have a dignified infrastructure.
“We have only one dialysis nurse”, “Reactivate transplants now” and “Out of 15 machines, six work”, the mothers and women caregivers of the Nephrology service patients wrote on banners to express their requests this Wednesday, March 3 at doors of the JM de los Ríos.
The other 13 hospital services whose patients are under precautionary measures by the IACHR are: Cardiology, Hematology, Pulmonology, Medicine 2, Medicine 3, Pathology, Lactation Center, Outpatient Consultation and Triage, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Comprehensive Pediatrics, Nutrition, Medicine of Adolescents and Pediatric Neurology Carmen Flores, one of the mothers who lost her son in 2017, said that kidney patients only receive white rice and Chinese beans for lunch, even though they should have a special diet due to their health condition. In addition, the air conditioners in the service are damaged, the rooms have water cans, in the kitchen the ceiling collapsed and the cleaning personnel are hardly ever seen.
The hospital stands by the ethics and commitment of the health personnel who continue to attend to work despite the salary they receive. They went from having six nurses per shift, to having one or two in total. Mothers reported that having nurses at night is the most difficult, and sometimes it is impossible to meet the hours of treatment because there is no one to apply it to the children.
Belkis’ son needs a transplant because he was born with only one kidney and it is no longer working well for him. For three years and nine months the Organ Procurement Program in Venezuela has been suspended by the State. This has affected, according to figures from the National Transplant Organization of Venezuela, about 700 people between children and adults. It is estimated that 10% corresponds only to minors who want to improve their quality of life.
“There are children who have been on dialysis for many years and need a transplant. Unfortunately, June 1 marks four years since this program has been suspended. The children are exhausted, ”said Katherine Martínez, director of the NGO Prepara Familia.
In January 2020, the Cardiology service of J. M. de los Ríos closed. Then, in February of that same year, it was learned of the technical closure of the Intensive Therapy service, and 2021 started without the Neurology service. In the case of the Hematology service, they have three weeks without applying chemotherapy due to a constant failure of the air conditioning.
“My baby, apart from dialysis, has heart problems, and I have to go to private centers because there is no cardiologist in this hospital,” said Astrid Da Costa, mother of a pediatric patient, and explained that she always takes refuge in donations to pay for consultations because they are very expensive.