Venezuela is in crisis. The South American country has been a sore festered with political turmoil and socioeconomic woes for years now. Unemployment is a pandemic in the country and, thanks to the devaluation of their currency, what little food can be had there, is largely unaffordable by the nation's people. As a result of these conditions, crime has become rampant, countless businesses in the country have shuttered and shortages of the staples we take for granted have become commonplace. Reuters reports that the shortages have begun to effect an unexpected, exclusive group of Venezuelans: organ transplant recipients.
According to Reuters, there are around 3,500 organ transplant recipients living in Venezuela today. Thanks to modern medicine, theses recipients have been able to lead largely normal lives. But as the country's ability to afford medicines made in other countries, make their own drugs or pay medical personnel diminishes, the lives of its organ transplant recipients are being put at risk. The drugs needed to keep their new organs from being rejected by their bodies have run out. So far, at least seven of the country's citizens have died as a result, with 35 additional transplant recipients reporting that their new organs are now being rejected by their bodies.
The suck doesn't stop there: thanks to the fact that only around half of Venezuela's dialysis machines are operating, tens of thousands of people waiting for lifesaving surgeries are at risk of dying as their blood can't be cleaned of toxins. The doctors who are still working to keep people alive in the country are exhausted and frustrated by the conditions they're now forced to work in:
"It's incredibly stressful. We request supplies; they don't arrive. We call again and they still don't arrive. Then we realize it's because there aren't any," said a kidney specialist at a public hospital, asking to remain anonymous because health workers are not allowed to speak publicly about the situation.
And because no disaster is complete without the presence of vultures waiting to prey on the vulnerable, a black market trade in medicines can provide you with the drugs Venezuelan need to live another day–if they're lucky.
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