August 1, 2008
Generous gift makes a difference in Jamaica

JamaicaDiabetes is highly prevalent among the nearly 3 million residents of Jamaica, a small country in the Caribbean. Unchecked, the disease can lead to a host of debilitating conditions, including kidney and heart disease, stroke, blindness and nerve damage. Unfortunately, many Jamaicans with diabetes – who may lack consistent access to medical care or are unable to properly manage their disease – develop these complications, and local hospitals are often ill-equipped to handle their complex care. To address this issue, a group of MGHers is leading an effort to bring much-needed medical equipment to Jamaican patients suffering from renal failure, just one of the complications that can develop from uncontrolled diabetes.

A GIFT TO JAMAICA: From left, project collaborators Joan Brown of Biomedical Engineering;  Thomas Achilles of Biomedical Engineering; Ketwaroo; Mary Sylvia-Reardon, RN, nurse manager for the Hemodialysis Unit; Dixon; and Tolkoff-Rubin

The initiative is spearheaded by Ronald Dixon, MD, of MGH Beacon Hill Associates, and Gyanprakash "Avi" Ketwaroo, MD, of the MGH Department of Medicine. Both have close ties to the country – Ketwaroo was born in Jamaica and Dixon's parents also come from the island. Working with the University of the West Indies, the physicians are examining novel ways of reducing the burden of diabetes and high blood pressure in the general population. As part of this process, they identified a need for hemodialysis equipment – machines that filter toxins from the blood of patients with renal failure – at the University Hospital of the West Indies, which serves people who cannot afford private care. With the support of Nina Tolkoff-Rubin, MD, medical director of the MGH Renal Transplantation Program, the project team was able to obtain three machines no longer in use in the MGH's Jean M. Nardini, RN, Hemodialysis Unit. The Massachusetts General Physicians Organization provided the shipping, and the equipment arrived in Jamaica in June. The group hopes to send additional donations in the future.

For more information about the project, contact Dixon at rdixon@partners.org

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