Panama 2018: Birthday Party on the Hemodialysis Unit

You may recall that I said how Minga is very social, and she makes community wherever she goes. When I sat with her on the hard plastic chairs along that long narrow corridor of the hemodialysis unit at the Hospital Dr. Arnulfo Arias Madrid in Panama City, I was touched to see her go up and down the line, checking on people who were part of the same group as she. Some of the others, mostly older women, did a similar thing. They shared tips on where to get big cans of powdered Ensure at the lowest price. They discussed symptoms. They offered each other encouragement. They talked about the rain, the crowded busses, the latest actions of their president. In short, they were neighborly… neighbors in treatment.

Now, Lily tells me, they planned a party for fellow hemodialysis patients celebrating birthdays in November, which includes Minga. The patients brought all the decorations and food. Minga brought a cake.

I’m not happy to see her still in that wheel chair — she needs to get back on her feet and walking or she’ll lose muscle strength to do so — but I love the look of joyful contentment on her face. That’s her daughter Ana, behind over Minga’s right shoulder. The others in the pic are patients, or family members. There are some quite young people who get dialysis. Their prospects are grim. You can’t live on dialysis forever, and the transplant list has thousands of names on it.

2 thoughts on “Panama 2018: Birthday Party on the Hemodialysis Unit

  1. Minga looks good. You’re right she needs to walk.

    Are living related renal transplants done in Panama? With her large family there’s a good chance someone would be a match.

  2. for Katie: Totally hadn’t thought of this and have absolutely no idea. Will have to look up how to say “related renal transplant” in Spanish and will ask Lily. Thank you for this. Could apply to Gloria’s family too — her son Raoul has very poor kidney function and can’t get on a transplant list until he’s actually receiving dialysis. He’s 25, which makes his situation quite serious.

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