[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very day, more Latinos are being diagnosed with diabetes and are struggling with renal failure. When the kidneys stop functioning, the consequences are devastating and the lack of treatment or an organ transplant can lead to death. There are over 800 Latinos in the State of Illinois currently suffering from this medical condition, who are struggling to survive while they wait for an organ donor who can save their lives.
This is the case of the Rivera family, whose lives took an unexpected turn when the doctors announced that Anthony, only 7 years old, was experiencing renal failure. Josefina Rivera, Anthony’s mother, began noticing that her son was fatigued, his eyes were swollen and he did not want to go outside to play. She immediately took him to the pediatrician where the necessary exams were performed, and she was told that he had kidney disease. The family immediately changed their activities and concentrated all of their attention on Anthony.
According to Dr. Ricardo Superina, Kidney Transplant Director at Lurie Children’s Hospital, “In the case of children, we prefer to perform peritoneal dialysis because it can be done at home while they sleep.” However, Dr. Superina said that in this case, “(Anthony) must visit the hospital or a dialysis center three to four times a week, which can be very difficult for parents who live far away and for the child who must stop attending school.”
Anthony’s sickness has escalated to the point that his teacher must home school him because the dialysis treatment forced him to trade in his classroom for a hospital. Josefina explained that her son receives dialysis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “I wake him up at 5 in the morning and we are back home by 10 a.m. He lays down to rest and after sleeping a bit, he gets back up to greet his teacher.”
The number of Hispanic organ donors in Illinois and Northwest Indiana rose from 10 in 2013 to 30 in 2014, an important increase in Gift of Hope’s history. The percentage of Latinos who authorized donation increased 17 percent. This is a significant accomplishment within the Latino community, who through their decisions to donate have provided hope for those who are on the transplant waiting list. However, as the Hispanic population continues to grow, so does the waiting list and with it the critical need for Latino donors and their families to support organ donation.
“One encounters many people who believe they cannot register to become donors because they have diabetes or any other illnesses, and this is not true,” explained Raiza Mendoza, manager of Hispanic Affairs for Gift of Hope. “We should all register and leave it up to the doctors to determine what can be donated and what cannot when the moment arises,” concluded Mendoza.
To celebrate National Kidney and Diabetes Month, Gift of Hope shares a message from people who, like the Rivera family, are in need of a miracle: “Donation is a beautiful gift and if we can share life with others, we should not waste the opportunity.”
We ask our community to remember that Anthony is one of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children waiting for a donor to change their lives so everything can go back to “normal” for them. Every person has the opportunity to leave their family a unique legacy through helping others and making a difference. Help us save Anthony!
For more information, visit www.giftofhope.org or call 877-577-3747.
This post is also available in: Spanish