Relief for Haiti's ESRD Patients

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As this issue goes to press, thousands of rescue personnel from the United States and other countries throughout the world are engaged in relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, where the death toll exceeded 200,000.

The earthquake knocked out electricity and collapsed hospitals and other medical facilities in Port-au-Prince and environs, presumably disrupting the provision of dialysis care, a potential death sentence for Haitians with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

The gravity of the situation was not lost on members of Kidney Care Partners (KCP), a U.S.-based coalition of patient advocates, dialysis professionals, care providers, and manufacturers. For example, according to a January 17 KCP press release, Fresenius Medical Care loaded dialysis equipment and supplies onto the U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort.

The American Society of Nephrology has helped recruit 60 physicians who have offered to provide assistance on the ground in the Haiti area or to accept patients back in the United States. I and other members of the Renal & Urology News staff applaud the rush to help.

As I was watching news coverage of the disaster in Haiti, I was curious as to how many of the country's nine million residents have ESRD, so I searched PubMed for papers that might have that statistic. To my surprise, my search using the terms “Haiti” and either “end-stage renal disease” or “dialysis” did not even turn up one paper.

Then I tried Google using the same search terms, and had success. Among the retrieved items was a news article dated December 9 on the University of Miami (UM) Miller School of Medicine web site that not only provided the number of ESRD patients in Haiti, but alerted me to an instance of unfortunate timing.

On November 30, only about six weeks before catastrophe struck, Jacques Jeudy, MD, a Haitian transplant surgeon who received fellowship training at UM, performed Haiti's first organ transplant—a kidney transplant—with assistance from other UM specialists.

This marked the beginning of a Haitian transplant program. The article, posted at www.med.miami.edu/news/view.asp?id=1222, quotes Dr. Jeudy as saying that ESRD afflicts more than 7,000 Haitians and at least 14 other ESRD patients with matched donors have signed up for renal transplants. A second surgery was scheduled for January. It would be a travesty if events in Haiti nip this incipient transplant program in the bud.

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