“I Want Everyone to See What’s Happening with Us Here” : The Dying Children of Venezuela
The Venezuelan Government Says the Media is Sensationalizing the Health Crisis. CNN's Paula Newton has more from Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela — When a health crisis is happening outside of the United States, you may not be aware of what is going on.
The Venezuelan government says the media is sensationalizing the crisis.
But tell that to the grieving parents of their dying children.
The searing reality of Venezuela’s upheaval reveals itself right here in a tender moment between mother and son.
Both know it’s his only comfort.
There is precious little else here to help him.
Deivis Perez is a very sick 14-year-old boy and has lost 22 pounds in two months in the hospital.
He has painful ulcers in his mouth and can only ingest liquids.
Deivis’ mother says the ulcers hurt like severe burns that cover his body.
“He can’t sleep, he can’t even touch his skin,” said Sandra, his mother. “It hurts so much, he’s like a burn victim. It’s very bad, there’s no medicine.”
Deivis is in renal failure and needs dialysis to survive, but the dialysis that is being done in his hospital is compromised by old filters and contaminated water.
He is now suffering from a bacterial infection that Sandra says has spread.
He can’t get his catheter replaced because there isn’t one and a the hospital doesn’t have a working surgical unit to do the procedure.
Deivis, who once held the picture perfect look of a healthy teenager, his mother says, is now barely recognizable and clearly in pain.
“I have to find strength where I don’t have it,” Sandra tells reporter Paula Newton, who is with CNN. “It hurts me to see him like this. I never thought he would go through this. I try to give him strength to go forward with me. I want everyone to see what’s happening with us here.”
Newton visited Deivis’ pediatric hospital in downtown Caracas a year ago to interview Sandra and meet him.
Hospital staff say they were improvising, lacking everything from antibiotics to surgical gloves.
Even the ceilings in intensive care were crumbling.
People say it is the symptom of plunging oil prices, which took Venezuela’s economy with it, making things like food and medicine a luxury.
The government of Venezuela denies the crisis, and says it is exaggerated by the media.
This year, when Newton and others returned to the hospital, the conditions had only gotten worse.
The director of the Pediatric Kidney Unit tells CNN infected children, including Deivis, were isolated and that his infection was under control.
However, she said they lack basic supplies and and Venezuela’s Ministry of Health has not responded to the hospital’s requests for those supplies.
The Ministry did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The director says eight children have died so far here this year.
Deivis is one of them.
A few weeks after Newton left his bedside, he died of hypovolemic shock because his blood levels were too low.
Sandra says he was in pain until the last moment and she blames the government.
She says she is sad, angry and has an enormous emptiness in her heart…in her soul.
If you would like to see Newton’s story and others’ on the health crisis in Venezuela, click here.