After death of friend, 34 kidney transplant patients worry about shortage of drugs at GPHC  

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By Bibi Khatoon

Thirty-four kidney transplant patients are calling on the administration of the Georgetown Public Hospital to put better measures in place for their treatment at the facility.

The patients have found themselves in a desperate position after one of their friends contracted an infection and eventually died at the hospital. The hospital is also without a critical medication which the patients need.

The patients, who have all done surgeries over the past three years, are calling for isolated rooms in the male and female wards to be used to administer their treatments when necessary.

Richard Manpersaud who did his surgery in February 2018, explained that because they use suppressants to help their bodies to adapt to Kidneys from donors, they may be admitted to the hospital for even a common cold.

“When we are hospitalized, we cannot be in an open ward with other patients with other infections that we can automatically catch because it could be life-threatening,” he claimed.

Manpersaud said that while the patients can use any room available, it is often unclear whether the space was previously sanitized.

Manpersaud’s friend, Ramesh Ramrattan, was admitted because of a bacteria found in his urine, however, he contracted a lung infection in the ward and passed away four days ago.

“That can happen to anyone of u anytime we get admitted so we really need this room and we need it urgently.”

Additionally, the patients are claiming that the hospital is without Mycophenolate, a suppressant medication which is used in conjunction with others to ensure that the human body does not reject the transplanted kidney.

Henry Brandon, who did his transplant surgery in April 2017, told the News Room during an interview that the medication is not available at local pharmacies and is expensive to order online. The patients all access Mycophenolate through the GPHC free of cost and are required to use the medication twice daily for the rest of their lives.

Mycophenolate, a suppressant medication which is used in conjunction with others to ensure that the human body does not reject the transplanted kidney.

“We were told that a shipment is due but they don’t know when it will be available again,” he said of enquiries made to the hospital’s procurement team.

“As of right now, some people’s drugs are finished; we are sharing drugs.

“Some of us are receiving from others until such time when we can get again but that can only last for so long. There will come a time, maybe next week or so, when everybody’s drug will finish and what happens? All of us are supposed to die?”

He explained that it is not safe to be sharing the medication because there is a possibility that another patient may have been prescribed a different brand of the medication.

However, he said it is necessary to look out for each other.

The Mycophenolate drug which was not approved by the FDA and which the GPHC uses

Brandon told the News Room that this is not the first time the hospital is faced with a shortage of the drug. He explained that the GPHC has a list of patients which it supplies at the start of the year and is cognizant of the number of planned surgeries for that year –this should make it easy for them to ensure that their supply is constant.

The second drug used by the group, Tacrolimus, currently has an expiry date of July 2019, raising concerns of whether this too will be replenished.

The patients are also faced with a third issue relating to their Drug Level Tests –another service which is not available locally.

The blood samples are sent to the United States to conduct tests every three months. According to Harrichan Gajadhar, another patient who did his surgery in March 2018, the tests are supposed to be done monthly but because of costs, they are facilitated by the Transplant team at the hospital every three months.

However, he said there are currently patients who have not done the test since October 2018. “We’re still taking the immune suppressant tablet but we’re not sure if our body is highly toxic.”

The Drug Level Tests are done to determine whether the medications in the body are between a required range to ensure that it does not become toxic.

The group said they wrote a letter to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GPHC, Brigadier George Lewis and the Ministry of Public Health earlier this year and promises were made to address some of their other issues relating to how they are treated at the clinic.

When contacted, Public Relations Officer at the GHPC, Mitzy Campbell said checks were made and the hospital has Mycophenolate and the other drugs needed. She said as it relates to other issues, there is a channel through which they can be addressed.

However, the patients said the drug which the hospital currently has is not the required brand since it was not FDA approved. As such, they were told by their doctors to wait on the Celcept brand which is needed.

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