Dialysis patient undergoes treatment in East Ghouta. Photo courtesy of Unified Medical Office in Douma.
The only dialysis clinic in the rebel-held Damascus suburbs of East Ghouta will suspend its operations Thursday due to a lack of supplies for hemodialysis, leaving 18 patients without access to the life-critical treatment, a physician at the clinic told Syria Direct.
“Without dialysis treatment these patients will die,” Dr. Khaled, a physician at the clinic who requested that only his first name be used, told Syria Direct.
One of the clinic’s patients is a 65-year-old woman from Douma who requested anonymity. After extensive tests 10 years ago, doctors found her kidney function was down by 60 percent and started her on dialysis three times per week.
But when she went to get dialysis this week, her doctor told her that they were almost out of hemodialysis rounds, and that she wouldn’t be able to get treatment in the coming weeks.
“I feel as though I could die at any moment in the coming days,” the woman told Syria Direct.
This is not the first time the clinic has shut down because it cannot procure necessary supplies. In February, two patients died of kidney failure after the clinic shut its doors for 10 days, Syria Direct reported at the time. Part of the problem is geography: Douma is the rebels’ de facto capital of regime-encircled East Ghouta.
Last year the Syrian regime reached an agreement with the World Health Organization and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to allow for the delivery of 2,000 rounds of dialysis treatment to Douma.
But so far only 1,100 rounds of treatment have entered the city in three separate deliveries. Most recently SARC delivered 250 rounds on February 13, said Dr. Khaled.
The Unified Medical Office in Douma is calling on humanitarian and international organizations to pressure the regime so that enough dialysis rounds can enter to last “an entire year,” according to its official announcement on Monday.
“The entire world just stares at us and doesn’t help us at all,” said the 65-year-old woman with kidney failure.
“At least when I die, I will escape the bombing, destruction and lack of basic necessities.”