Greetings from León!
Photographer Ed Kashi and I first met Jorge last January in his home in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. Jorge was an esteemed member of his community: a little league coach, a liaison between his community and the mayor’s office, and a devoted husband and father. Jorge was also a former sugarcane worker who had been diagnosed with CKDnT, and was now undergoing peritoneal dialysis in his home, the only life sustaining treatment option available to him. I was immediately struck by Jorge’s humor, courage, and strength, despite his situation; his family’s dedication to him in his time of need confirmed these impressions.
Jorge died due to complications from his dialysis in February, 2013.
After working over 30 years in the sugarcane fields for 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, Jorge died in enormous pain and absolute poverty. I often wonder what he and many of the other men who have died from CKDnT in these communities could have given the world, had they been born in a different time and place. Now, Jorge’s 24 year old son – also a sugarcane worker – has been diagnosed with CKDnT, and unless treatment improves, he will face the same fate as his father and so many others.
In his time as a National Geographic photographer Ed has witnessed war in Iraq, conflict in the Niger Delta, and countless other hardships, but his experience with Jorge, Jorge’s family, and those affected by the CKDnT epidemic left an enormous impact on him. He continues to work with LIF to share these people’s stories: you can see his photo gallery from Chichigalpa here.
In the Chinandega province in northwest Nicaragua, 3,000 CKDnT patients are in need of home dialysis, yet only 25 are currently receiving treatment. An overburdened and underfunded medical system make expanding the scope of treatment impossible, and substandard living conditions contribute to often fatal complications for those currently receiving peritoneal dialysis in their home or as outpatients in the public hospital.
LIF is working towards a solution, but we need your help. Collaborating with leading researchers and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, we are launching a new campaign to evaluate, improve, and expand the current peritoneal dialysis treatment program.
You can be part of this solution. Helping thousands receive the kidney disease treatment they urgently need is as easy as texting GIVE 14536 to 80088 (a $10 contribution for US phones only), or by donating through our project page.
By providing better healthcare, we are giving those suffering from CKDnT the gift of time: years added onto their lives to spend with their families and communities, and last moments that are peaceful instead of agonizing. This is what Jorge and his family deserved. With your help, we can make this happen.
President and Co-Founder
Please note: names have been changed out of respect for the affected.
Photo Credit: Ed Kashi for La Isla Foundation/VII