American Kidney Fund statement on growing crisis in Puerto Rico for dialysis patients


ROCKVILLE, Maryland (September 28, 2017) — A week after Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm, the 5,600 Americans on the island who depend on dialysis are facing a life-threatening crisis.

Water and electricity are in short supply. The power grid is severely damaged, and the island doesn’t currently have the capacity to produce clean water.  Dialysis clinics are fighting just to stay open—they cannot operate without water and power. Each day, clinics need thousands of gallons of clean, potable water. Clinics use this water to make dialysate, the fluid in a dialysis machine. They need electricity to power the dialysis machines and other equipment.

Without operational dialysis clinics, individuals with kidney failure are facing a precarious situation, because they need treatment three times a week to survive. We are extremely concerned for the welfare of these patients and urge a very strong focus on bringing additional resources and support to the island in order to save their lives.

Many dialysis facilities are operating on generators and relying on water deliveries from off -island, but the situation is extremely difficult for everyone involved. The dialysis clinic employees who are working in Puerto Rico right now are undertaking heroic measures just to keep their clinics open, because for dialysis patients who cannot get treatment, this is a matter of life and death.

As part of the Kidney Community Emergency Response Coalition (KCER) which coordinates the efforts of dialysis providers, relief agencies, and the regional U.S. ESRD Networks, AKF is tracking developments on the ground. The KCER Coalition holds daily update conference calls to assess conditions and develop lifesaving strategies to assist the thousands of dialysis patients affected by this disaster.

AKF’s own Disaster Relief Program is working to provide emergency financial assistance to dialysis patients who have evacuated from Puerto Rico to the mainland, as well as those patients who remain in Puerto Rico and will need help in the coming weeks and months. This aid will allow them to buy medicine, food, and other essentials after losing so much.

In this time of crisis, we urge our leaders to expedite assistance and resources to Puerto Rico to save the lives of people who are in very challenging circumstances.

About the American Kidney Fund

As the nation’s leading nonprofit working on behalf of the 30 million Americans with kidney disease, the American Kidney Fund is dedicated to ensuring that every kidney patient has access to health care, and that every person at risk for kidney disease is empowered to prevent it. AKF provides a complete spectrum of programs and services: prevention outreach, top-rated health educational resources, and direct financial assistance enabling 1 in 5 U.S. dialysis patients to access lifesaving medical care, including dialysis and transplantation. AKF’s Disaster Relief Program has been a lifeline of critically needed assistance for dialysis patients for many years, helping people in the aftermath of the nation’s most devastating disasters, including Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Sandy, Matthew and many more.

AKF holds the highest ratings from the nation’s charity watchdog groups, including Charity Navigator, which includes AKF on its “top 10” list of nonprofits with the longest track records of outstanding stewardship of the donated dollar.

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