Earlier in the newscast, we reported that the Belize Healthcare Partners had decided to rehire its only certified nurse, Maria Ack, who had resigned from her job in December, claiming that the conditions did not adequately provide for proper treatment to the kidney patients. Dialysis treatment is costly and prohibitive to many of the patients that require it. The government is paying for at least some twenty patients, but there are others who are not getting government assistance. Channel Five’s William Neal got a firsthand look at how the treatment is administered and how the patients endure the rigorous regimen.

Dr. Daniel Godinez, Internist
“Dialysis just a procedure in which we try to remove through that procedure, many toxins that your body produces. In normal conditions, these toxins are removed by your kidney. But if for any reason your kidney fails or is not working properly, these toxins can accumulate in your body. So they have to be removed somehow and so this is the idea of the dialysis; to remove these toxins. Unfortunately, dialysis is a very good procedure to remove toxins, but it is not a very curative type of procedure. It just keeps you going. Since everyday you live you continue producing toxins, eventually you will find yourself in a position where you have to do these procedures repeatedly; over and over. The reason for that is that most patients who need this procedure, have an irreversible damage to the kidney. That is to say that the kidneys have been damaged or injured by something that caused a scarring, which is essentially irreversible.”

“By the way, the two most common causes worldwide of this condition, which is chronic renal failure, are diabetes and high blood pressure. For an average sized person, we end up realizing that the person will need about three dialysis a week to keep going, to keep substituting the function the kidney normally would do. The only thing we need for the patient is to have an access to a blood vessel somewhere from which we could move blood from the patient into the machine. The machine passes it through the filter and then it sends it back to the patient again.”

William Neal
“How long does the entire process itself take?”

Dr. Daniel Godinez
“At an average, about three hours. That’s the average time. Some patients may need a little bit less than that or a little bit more depending on their particular needs.”

William Neal
“Are there any dangers with this kind of a—because it’s actually taking the blood out?”

Dr. Daniel Godinez
“Unfortunately, yes. There are many, many complications that can happen with dialysis. Most of them can be avoided by doing it carefully. For example, one of the problem we have is that you are essentially exposing blood and entering the blood stream, the risk of infection is always there. So they have to do a very clean and sterile procedure to prevent infection. That’s the first thing. Secondly, some patients may bleed during the procedure because we use substances to prevent clogging since the blood going into the plastic tubes can cause clogs very easy. So you have to use anticoagulants to prevent that, but at the same time you increase the risk of bleeding in the patient. Finally, the reason we can do that with this particular patient is because he has a little plastic device inserted into his blood vessels under the skin. That’s called a fistula. That is the area that we access every time to extract the blood and send it back to the patient. But also that can get infected and those infections, usually when they happen they are serious infections.”

“If dialysis is well done and they are done in regular paces, we have patients who have gone fifteen or twenty years on dialysis. One of the disadvantages is that the patient has to keep coming to a center where this machine is available so that the patient can keep doing this procedure. So in that sense, the quality of life of the patient is kind of limited because the patient has to be kind of attached to the machine or living closed by to a place where the machine is available. Basically, it will be monitoring several things. One of them is the speed in which the blood will pass through the machine coming from the patient and then going back to them. Also it will calibrate or control the speed in which the flow in is going through that filter. Also you will see that it will keep track of the blood pressure of the patient as well as the pressure in the veins to make sure that system won’t overload and also to make sure that the patient won’t be suffering an excessive amount of removal of blood.”

William Neal
“Is it a very difficult procedure to adjust to? What are some of the challenges?”

Louis Tingling, Dialysis Patient
“It’s very depressing. For me at first really, really hard. I couldn’t cope with it; I just basically di try deal wid it. It’s painful, yoh can’t sleep, yoh lose weight, yoh noh eat; wah whole lotta thing to it. Ih affect yoh work, mentally, yoh physical means just basically change. Dah wah really hard situation, really, really, hard.”

Dr. Daniel Godinez
“Ideally, the best thing would be that we would have to educate the population to prevent these things from happening and we will have to educate them so that they can take good control of diabetes and hypertension. So a center like this is important to save a small population, but remember that this is a procedure relatively expensive, that it is not curative and that it has its risk and so in truth, the bets would be to prevent the patient from reaching this point.”

Channel 5