Houston, we have a problem.

Like everyone else this week, I’m focused on the tragedy unfolding in Texas and Louisiana. It will be a long road ahead for thousands of people who somehow survived the flooding.

I particularly am thinking about dialysis patients this week. How scary and difficult this must be! What if I had to evacuate my home in a hurry, with no real idea of when I could get back. I pack some belongings and clothes, but mostly, I’m packing up my dialysis machine and all my supplies. All my supplies?? How many boxes of solution do I bring? If I didn’t have time to get the special suitcase for the machine, how can I pack it safely? Will I land in a place that is clean and has power? Will I be in a stadium or church basement, packed in with hundreds of other people?

What if I had not left my home early enough, the floods came faster than I expected? No way to bring anything then. But there’s another concern: I cannot be emerged in water because of the catheter going into my abdomen. No swimming in lakes or rivers, not even a bath. Now, suddenly, there’s a possibility I have to wade through garbage water, full of goodness knows what, just to survive. That thought alone makes my anxiety rise.

But patients on peritoneal dialysis number fewer than those who are on hemo-dialysis. What about dialysis clinics? Which ones are still open, and if mine is closed…where do I go?

I am a patient with Fresenius Dialysis Centers and they have information on their kidney care page: “IF YOU ARE A DIALYSIS PATIENT AFFECTED BY HURRICANE HARVEY, PLEASE MAKE SURE TO CONTACT OUR DISASTER RESPONSE TEAM AT 1-800-626-1297.”

DaVita’s website offered a little more: “Patients whose dialysis is impacted by Tropical Storm Harvey should call 1-800-400-8331. DaVita dialysis centers and hospital locations in impacted areas continue to receive and treat patients. Find an open center here: https://goo.gl/3kYi2J”.

The National Kidney Foundation (a non-profit organization worth your philanthropic dollars) is an excellent resource with tips on kidney care, transplant, and dialysis. They also have a fund to pay for medical expenses for kidney patients. Here’s their message: “If you are a patient affected by the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey, please call the KCER Hotline: 866.901.3773 if you need assistance or are having difficulty contacting your dialysis clinic. Visit the KCER Hurricane Harvey website for updates, support, and resources.  If you need help finding resources please contact NKF Cares: 1.855.653.2273.”

I’m somewhat relieved to find this information, but who has internet access in this kind of emergency situation? Or cell service?

What I have been seeing unfolding is an amazing story of human perseverance. A human chain formed to save a pregnant woman who was in labor. A guy and his son on horses, rescuing other horses. News reporters putting their microphone down to help people out of the water. Story after story of survival and people helping people. That’s who America is and should be.


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