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Kidney crisis - Children of cash-strapped parents get help from UHWI

Published:Friday | June 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
A tender moment for Anneika Douglas as she tends to her son, Javarie McDonald, while he does dialysis at the University Hospital of the West Indies last Friday.

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) has moved to save six children who were facing almost certain death because their parents could not find the millions of dollars for them to continue the paediatric dialysis programme which keeps them alive.

Chief Executive Officer of the UHWI Kevin Allen, last week disclosed that while the hospital has funding issues efforts are being made to ensure that the six children continue to receive the lifesaving treatment.

The children all have kidney problems and four of them have to journey to the hospital six  days each week to get dialysis treatment. The others receive dialysis at home thanks to the Jamaica Kidney Kids Foundation (JKKF) which facilitated them getting personal machines.

The five-year-old non-profit organisation has been involved in supporting the four children who are treated at the UHWI by providing most of the supplies required for the dialysis machines.

But JKKF chairperson, Dr Maolynne Miller, told The Sunday Gleaner that the foundation has run out of money resulting in serious concerns over the fate of the six children as their parents would each have to find close to $200,000 weekly for their treatment.

“We have been helping the university hospital and the two children at home by supplying most of the consumables the children need for dialysis and we got a good bit of help from the Sagicor Sigma Run donation in 2015, but that has now become exhausted,” said Miller.

 “If the hospital isn’t able to take up the slack then the children have no chance.  They will die. The hospital in the past had serious challenges paying for the equipment which is how we ended up buying them in the first place.

“We had told the hospital that we cannot guarantee supplies after June because we had about one month of our savings left, so although the hospital has been put on notice we don’t want to find that they are unable to step up to the plate and we have any child dying,” added Miller.

She said while the children are not refused service if the parents are unable to pay what it means is that the parents will rack up bills of more than $12 million per annum which might prove too much for the hospital to absorb.

“As has happened in the past the hospital then can’t afford to continue ordering the supplies because of that debt,” added Miller.

Her worry was shared Anneika Douglas who is one of the parents who provide support for children with severe kidney disease in Jamaica.

Douglas’ 10-year-old son is one of those who receive dialysis treatment at the UHWI.

“It’s the kidney association that use to help us but they are in a crisis right now, so my fear is my son is going to die and the rest of kids because without dialysis they cannot live,” said Douglas.

 “The other mothers are scared, worried; they are praying just as myself.  Remember UHWI is not a public hospital so it needs money to buy fluid and pay bills too. So we are in a crisis. I can’t eat; I can’t sleep because I am just so worried.”

Douglas’ son, Javarie, has been on dialysis since age five after contracting an illness that damaged his kidney and heart.  He has to be taken to the UHWI four times weekly for 10-hour dialysis sessions.

The mother of two said Javarie’s illness has been very stressful resulting in his father absconding leaving her to draw on the other mothers for support.

“It is about 10 of us as mothers. There are no fathers in the group, as they rarely stick around when they hear that kids have sickness,” said Douglas.

 “Some of the kids have died but we stick together still. Our motto is ‘we are a family that prays together and stays together no matter what’s the outcome’,” added Douglas.

Now it seem their prayers are being answered based on Allen’s latest comments.

“We will fund their treatment through other means, meaning those patients who can afford to pay for their treatment some of those funding will be channelled to take care of the needs of these children that we have here,” said Allen.

 “So you should not see fallout in providing care because we are making arrangement to ensure that the necessary disposable supplies are in place to meet their needs,” added Allen.

He said parents who are having difficulty paying can speak with the hospital’s assessment officer and after being evaluated and financial clearance is given the patient will get the treatment they need.

You can help save the lives of children with kidney disease

The Jamaica Kidney Kids Foundation (JKKF) needs approximately $18.6 million annually or J$1.5 million each month to expand its programme to accommodate emergency temporary patients, as well as new children with end stage renal disease.

The JKKF is now trying to raise funds by selling gratitude cards for $200 each in leading supermarkets and by encouraging donations in its collection tins across the island.

Make donations to the JKKF online (via PayPal) at:

In-person donations may be made at most major supermarkets across the Corporate Area.

JKKF may be contacted at:

4 Ruthven Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica, WI

Tel: (876) 754-5776, (876) 391-5680, (876) 463-5971

Fax: (876) 926-9390