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The Pain Factor: Kevin’s Story

  • July 27, 2010

Consuela’s heart sank when she heard her son Kevin cry out. Kevin, a bright-eyed six-year-old from a rural village in El Salvador, suffers from a blood disorder called hemophilia. The disease leaves him constantly at risk of uncontrolled bleeding and severe pain from even a minor cut or bruise. Under Consuela’s watchful eye, Kevin remained injury-free for over two years. Yet, in an instant, a simple fall swelled Kevin’s knee to more than five times its normal size and caused crippling pain.  

Consuela quickly swept Kevin into her arms and began the long journey to the only place in El Salvador where her youngest son can get help – the AmeriCares-supported Benjamin Bloom Hospital in San Salvador.

El Salvador is struggling to establish emergency health services and private emergency medical transport would cost Kevin’s family over half of his family’s monthly income. His father brings home little more than $100 per month from his grueling work at the local coffee plantation. Without public ambulance service and unable to pay private fees, Consuela made the journey on foot with Kevin in her arms, crying in pain. She carried him throughout a treacherous, two-hour hike on dirt roads to reach the public bus to San Salvador.   

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Today, children with hemophilia can now receive in-home treatments of Factor VIII– a sophisticated, expensive medicine which restores blood clotting and stops the bleeding. AmeriCares delivers Factor VIII to Benjamin Bloom Hospital, where the donations help children like Kevin who cannot afford medical care and ensures that the Hospital will not run out of the valuable medication.

AmeriCares is working to expand the availability of in-home treatment – known as infusion therapy – for hemophilia. The life-changing treatment will help kids like Kevin around the world  live without pain and constant fear of injury.  It also would free up limited resources at public and charity hospitals in developing countries, allowing them to focus on the most critical cases.

Dr. Anna Gladys Mancia de Reyes, head of the department of Hematology at the Benjamin Bloom Hospital, explains that because there is limited preventive and in-home treatment for children in El Salvador. An injury like Kevin’s can mean about a week in the specialized hemophilia unit, costing the Hospital as much as $12,000 and disrupting the entire family.

On the other hand, it would cost about $2,000 for a child like Kevin to get in-home treatment. What’s more, the burden on Kevin’s family would ease because his father wouldn’t miss work to care for his brother and Consuela wouldn’t have to sleep at the hospital. Sadly, due to the cost of the medication, the hospital often runs out of their supply for home use and must keep the reserve at the hospital for only the most severe cases.

That’s why AmeriCares is working not only to increase the availability of the essential medication, but on ways to reduce delivery costs and support health centers in rural communities, helping Kevin – and many other children like him around the world – lead more active, healthy lives.

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