Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One More Take on Natural Disasters and the Disabled

I wanted to pass along a little story a neighbor of mine told me when we returned to our flood stricken neighborhood in upstate NY on September 11.

This neighbor's mother has kidney disease. She recently received a kidney transplant (one of the lucky ones, I might add, but that is a story for another day).  When the call came to evacuate our neighborhood, this daughter had a terrible choice to make.

Go to a shelter?  Or take her chances with a local relative?

She chose the relative. Why?  Simply put, her mother never would have survived the shelter.  Fortunately, the relative was not flooded out. But what if? 

Why couldn't a transplant patient go to a shelter?

Simply put:  too many germs.

On top of that, the neighbor had to quickly gather all of the anti-rejection medications her Mom takes.  There was about $2,300 worth.  If those were lost, the insurer would not give out another supply.

Just another day in the life of the medically fragile, you might say.  But ponder this.

One of the leading causes of non-genetically related kidney disease is diabetes.  And, guess what is growing rapidly in this country?  Yes, the percentage of people with diabetes.  Want to bet we'll be in the middle of an epidemic of kidney disease in a few years?  

And having diabetes in the middle of a natural disaster - in that context people with diabetes are disabled, too.  They just can't throw their meds aside.  They need frequent meals and can't just eat anything presented to them.

So never mind the burgeoning population with autism.   Besides the developmentally disabled our society is going to be dealing with a lot of people caught up in disasters who are medically fragile in one way or another.  Are we prepared for this?  What do you think?

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