IOM assists dialysis patients from Luhansk Region

Displaced persons on hemodialysis are visited by IOM partner NGO in Dnipropetrovsk (Eastern Ukraine). As people left their homes with minimal belongings, IOM supported them with warm blankets and robes (pictured below)

When going to the Luhansk city hemodialysis [1] centre on a hot summer day at the end of July 2014, Tamara*, 58, could hardly imagine that she would neither come home that evening nor for the next three months. Together with the other 50 hemodialysis patients there on that balmy afternoon, she was spirited from the hospital straight to the railway station and transferred to Dnipropetrovsk by the hospital’s medical staff. That was perfect timing, as the very next day the station came under withering artillery fire.

In one sense, the patients were relieved to leave Luhansk, since the dialysis center was beginning to be appropriated for the treatment of wounded combatants. Dnipropetrovsk city hospital #4, which agreed to host the patients, sent ten ambulances to meet them at the railway station upon arrival. That was the beginning of their new life and hospital #4 became their new home.

Tamara and her fellow patients are wholly dependent on dialysis. Like most of the patients at her advanced stage of kidney failure, she has to spend up to six hours three times a week undergoing this blood filtering procedure pending a kidney transplant. Dialysis is expensive, and requires advanced equipment and medical supplies.

Only a few of the patients from Luhansk can afford to live in Dnipropetrovsk due to their unstable financial situations, says Tamara. From Siverodonetsk (Luhansk Region), she worked for most of her life as a librarian at the local research centre before retirement. She had to commute to Luhansk for hemodialysis and more than 100 kilometers one way because of the lack of a similar centre in her town, which already placed quite a financial burden on her shoulders. Now, since the onset of hostilities, her son has had to move his family of wife and two toddlers to Kyiv Region. He is struggling to make a living working at a small local factory there and waiting for the chance to return to Siverodonetsk. Tamara cannot ask for money from him. And most of the patients are in a similar situation, in that their families cannot support them financially. Moreover, some of them do not even have a place to return to, as their houses have been destroyed.

“We are so grateful to everyone who tried to help us, and especially to the Dnipropetrovsk charitable NGO ’Promin’, the IOM partner organization in the city who brought us bathrobes and duvet covers. We left Luhansk in the middle of the summer, had no warm clothes with us and the hospital covers are so thin”, said Tamara. Though she found herself in an unexpected and dire situation, she didn’t panic, and not only kept her composure but also managed to lead coordination with other patients and assist in volunteer work. She says they would stand to benefit from improved nutrition and a sufficient supply of medicine. Most of the IDPs from Luhansk and Donetsk wish to return to their homes soon but don’t know whether this could be possible, admits Tamara.

[1] In hemodialysis, an artificial kidney is used to cleanse the patient’s blood by remove waste, extra chemicals and fluid.

* The name has been changed to protect privacy

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