Caracas, May 27 (EFE).- Medical personnel, parents and patients at the J.M. de los Rios Children’s Hospital, Venezuela’s main pediatric center, protested this Monday outside the building after learning about the death of a boy waiting to receive a bone marrow transplant – the fourth death at the facility this month and the third in the past week.
Adriana Avariano, mother of Mariana Colina Navas Avariano, a 4-year-old girl diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, told EFE she favored the protest because she worries a lot “about the little girl’s health, but not just that of her child but of all the other youngsters, because this is a family.”
She warned that since last week the treatment of children was suspended because the hospital’s air conditioning was no longer working.
“All the treatment she had previously won’t be worth anything because the cancer keeps growing,” Avariano said.
The J.M. de los Rios Children’s Hospital in Caracas had 30 patients on the waiting list for bone marrow transplants at the beginning of May.
On Sunday, May 26, 11-year-old Erick Altuve, who was suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, died of respiratory arrest, while the day before Yeiderbeth Requena had passed away.
Death had previously taken 6-year-old Giovanni Figuera on May 6, and Robert Redondo, 7, on May 23. In every case the child was waiting for a bone marrow transplant that never materialized.
Also taking part in the protest outside the hospital were medical specialists.
The president of the Venezuelan Childcare and Pediatrics Society and former president of the J.M. de los Rios Children’s Hospital, Huniades Urbina, told EFE that medical personnel have spent “10 to 12 years denouncing the progressive deterioration that the hospital is going through.”
Urbina noted that in the case of the J.M. de Los Rios, services like X-rays are not to be had, the PET scanner hasn’t worked for five years and laboratories show an 80-percent shortage of reagents, which stops patients from having studies done that could ward off bacteria.
The precarious situation at the J.M. de los Rios, he said, is repeated in all the other public medical centers in what he called “a collapse of health.”
Urbina noted that, besides cancer patients, children waiting for kidney transplants are also having great difficulties in receiving the needed treatments in an adequate and timely way.
Ana Rosario Contreras, president of the Capital District Nursing School, said she regretted that in Venezuela “priority is given to buying machine guns and uniforms for the military” instead of acquiring medicines.
“We don’t want to see more Venezuelans die because there are no medical supplies,” she said.