I had planned to write a post on a different topic, but there is something else I have to get off my chest first. And yes, once again it is about health care in Armenia.
About a year or so ago I wrote a post about a 15-year old boy from Spitak whom I have known for almost six years, since I first came to Armenia. He is smart, he is has a good heart, is a kind person, he has dreams of becoming a journalist, in many ways he is wise beyond his age, he is a sweet-ass, in short he is very different from most Armenian 15-year olds that I know. Over the years he has become like a younger brother to me. And he is ill: he has an incurable kidney disease that will eventually require a kidney transplant.
Since I wrote about him, I haven’t sat still. Together with a few people I have been working on getting him the best treatment possible, which is not in Armenia – as you will find out if you continue reading. I don’t want to get into the details of what we are working on right now, but I hope that I will soon be able to share some good news with you.
Vardan is being treated at the Arabkir Children’s Hospital in Yerevan which is supposedly one of the best hospitals in the country. Since the summer, his health has deteriorated and for the past couple of months, Vardan has spent most of the time at his relatives in Echmiadzin because the climate is milder there than in Spitak. His parents (mostly his mom) come down from Spitak every time he needs to go to the hospital for tests and treatment. Previously, his doctors didn’t think Vardan’s situation was bad enough for him to be eligible for kidney dialysis – something he would undoubtedly have started to receive at an earlier stage already in a different country. Dialysis is expensive in Armenia and there are not enough machines so there is a waiting list (that is, of course, unless you have “contacts” who can move you to the top of the list). But about six weeks ago, things started to go fast. The doctors decided that it’s time for Vardan to get ready for dialysis. They said they would give him dialysis for two months and then he would need to undergo the transplant. Why two months? I don’t know. From what those involved understand (one of them is Vardan’s aunt who is a doctor as well), there is no medical reason to limit the dialysis to two months, but the hospital just doesn’t want to “waste” a precious place at a dialysis machine for too much time, as there is a waiting list. Nothing much was explained about the dialysis to Vardan and his parents. Only that, apparently, a ‘fistula’ needed to be put in Vardan’s arm before the start of the dialysis. If anyone can explain this to me, please do, as I am still not exactly sure what it is and what it’s for. For two or three weeks the doctor kept telling them to come at a certain day so they would perform the operation to put the fistula in. But every time Vardan and his mom came to the hospital, this doctor suddenly said: “Oh no, not today! Today we won’t be able to.” And so they left again only to come back a few days later and the whole thing would repeat itself! This happened about four or five times! And every time Vardan’s mom would take time off from work in Spitak and come all the way down to Yerevan. For what? For nothing! This poor woman spent so much time away from work (which means she didn’t get an income for the days she didn’t work) and so much time and money traveling back and forth only to be told to come back in a few days!!
Finally, at the beginning of last week they could stay and the fistula was put in Vardan’s arm, a two-hour operation and a two night stay at the hospital for observation. After the operation no one told Vardan and his mom anything about how to take care of the wound, whether or not to clean the wound and how to do that, when to open or renew the bandage, what to do to prevent infection or inflammation. Nothing! Fortunately, the aunt with whom Vardan lives now in Echmiadzin is a doctor so she knows a thing or two about how to deal with this. But man! was she pissed when she realized Vardan and his mom had been told nothing! The only thing they were told was to come back for a check and tests today. So today they went back to the hospital. They were able to meet with the doctor who performed the operation; fortunately everything was fine. But the other doctor, who had told them to come today for blood tests, said that they couldn’t do the tests yet, because it was too soon after the operation! Huh!?!?!?!? Wasn’t she the exact same person who had told Vardan to come for testing today?!?!?
Remember I just wrote that this is all in preparation for a kidney transplant which is supposedly taking place a few months from now? Well, let me tell you that this family has so far been told nothing (yes, you read it correctly: N-O-T-H-I-N-G) about this whole operation, how to prepare, what is going to happen, what the chances of success are, etc. Worst of all, they don’t even have a clue where or how to find a suitable donor!!! At first, Vardan’s dad was found to be a suitable match, but his health has deteriorated recently and he is no longer considered suitable. So now what? Is there a shuka for organ donors in this country where they can go and bargain for a kidney????
These doctors don’t give a s#%$ about their patients, they don’t care about giving information, about proper preparation, they don’t care that these people are by no means rich and that the mother has to take off time from work and miss income and has to come all the way from Spitak every time they are called to the hospital. What kind of country is this?!?!?!? What kind of people are they?!?!?!?