A woman, age 42, dying of Hepatitis. She is too weak to walk on her own and must be taken care of by her 13-year-old son, who dropped out of school. She has no husband, and no treatment or formal diagnoses to the illness that has plagued her for years. She is at a breaking point, not having eaten for a week. She is so jaundiced because of her failing liver, so much so that her eyes and face are noticeably yellow. This is where we come in: five student nurses. Our job is simple: transfer her to the nearby hospice, so she can become rehydrated and comfortable. There is a simple request from her: that we all would pray with her before we left. We clasped hands and stood together on the dirt floor, in solidarity with her. She began to cry in the midst of her prayer, a common show of Peruvian emotion towards God. With her rosary around her neck, we slowly helped her into the truck and to the hospice.
As we took her vitals, we quickly realize how dire her situation is. Not only does she have a deadly disease, but she also lacks the care she needs. Even if she had health insurance, she would be taken to a sub par hospital to receive a low amount of care. If she wanted the right drugs or treatment to curb the Hepatitis, she would need to travel to Lima or farther to get them. This is the reality of so many people here in Peru, where people simply die from preventable diseases. Here’s some food for thought: while 20% of the world’s population uses 80% of the world’s resources, the other 80% only uses 20% of the resources. This rings true in Peru not only with general poverty, but with health care as well.
We only hope that if she is to pass away in the next few weeks, that it is in peace at the beautiful hospice. The three hospice nurses and the Marquette team are working to give her hydration, comfort, and tranquility. Her name is Aurelia, and her 43rd birthday is on Thursday. We plan on bringing her flowers, because everyone deserves a celebration.