Refugees from Syria Get Life-Saving Kidney Dialysis in Lebanon
Nawras al-Hroob, 26 years old, was born and raised in Dera’a, Syria. He remembers it as a calm, friendly neighborhood. That all changed in March 2011, when anti-regime uprisings in Dera’a marked the start of civil war. In 2013, Nawras, along with his parents and four younger siblings, fled the fighting and sought refuge in Lebanon. Today, Nawras is one of more than one million Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon.
With ANERA’s help, Hamshari Hospital provides more than 7,000 dialysis sessions a year.
His life as a refugee is hard and even more complicated by a life-threatening kidney disease. Since 2007 Nawras has required three hours of dialysis services three times a week. When he arrived to Lebanon, Nawras settled in Beirut and initially used the dialysis services of a Beirut hospital. He had to pay $150 for each dialysis session in addition to the medicines he needed. It was a heavy burden for his family who have been impoverished by their precarious situation.
But relief has come for Nawras at Hamshari Hospital, where he is getting the dialysis and medicines he needs free of charge. It take him a bit longer to get there but he says the extra travel time is worth it. “If this center did not exist I would have not been alive today to speak to you,” he explains. “I can’t find a job and my family can’t afford the treatment so this is a life-saver.”
Hamshari hospital is managed and funded by long-time ANERA partner Health Care Society. Through ANERA’s in-kind program, the hospital receives vital medicines and medical supplies. Earlier in 2014, ANERA received over 7,000 vials of Albumin, generously donated by AmeriCares for Lebanon. The serum is essential for many dialysis patients, but at $60 a vial in the local economy it is prohibitively expensive.
“During a dialysis treatment, many patients experience fluid retention,” explains Dr. Ahmad Jindawi, the head of the dialysis unit. “Albumin helps pull extra fluid from swollen tissue back into the blood. By reducing fluid retention, Albumin can actually save a person’s life.”
Dr Jindawi’s dialysis unit, under the auspices of the Palestinian Red Crescent, was established at Hamshari Hospital in 1996 to serve Palestinian refugees who do not benefit from public health care in Lebanon. The hospital now is treating some impoverished Syrian refugees too.
The hospital is located on the outskirts of Mieh Mieh camp in the southern area of Saida. it is the only center in Lebanon that provides dialysis services free of charge for Palestinian refugees. About 40 patients come daily from all over the country to receive the life-saving treatment, including refugees like Nawras.
Dr. Jindawi says his team provides as many as 7,500 dialysis sessions and associated medicines free of charge every year for his patients, thanks to ANERA’s in-kind program and generous donors like AmeriCares.