The visit, however, was not wasted. The volunteers were able to partner with local physicians and screen 150 people for possible end-stage renal disease. According to BOL, approximately 15 percent of those screened were already in stage 4 of chronic kidney disease. The organization also handed out educational materials that were translated from U.S. kidney care resources and were customized to include the Indian diet, lifestyle and culture. “You have to respect and pay attention to what the local culture dictates,” Mello said.
The next round of volunteers arrived in June and were able to open both clinics with the supplies that were released from customs. Currently, 14 patients are dialyzing in Jodhpur, and five in Phalodi. Some of the patients at the two clinics can afford to pay a small amount, and some can afford to pay nothing, said Mello. Jodhpur is considered a wealthier city than the farming community of Phalodi; therefore, the group decided that the Jodhpur clinic would take in a higher percentage of paying patients in order to support the 40 percent of Phalodi patients, who could not afford the treatment. “Their objective is not to make a profit on the clinic,” she added. “Their objective is to get enough money so they can keep both clinics functioning.”
A Continuing Partnership
The commitment for BOL will last about three years with bi-weekly conference calls with the doctor and the bio-med team in India, according to Mello. In November, BOL will send another team to introduce the Indian renal professionals to reuse, to reassess the clinicians on their procedures, and to further educate the physician there. BOL’s bio-med team will perform preventative maintenance and teach the local Indian team how to do the maintenance. They are also looking to secure the supply chain to make sure they will be able to get dialyzers, tubing, etc., on an ongoing basis.
“Our mission is to create a village without borders, in return sharing the gift of life,” Mello said. “Our objective is to create sustainable change in the world as it relates to the delivery and access to chronic kidney disease [care] for people that would otherwise not have access to care. That means in underserved parts of the world for underserved people. That is our focus.” RBT
Visit www.bridgeoflifemm.org for more information.