Do-It-Yourself Dialysis Clinic Banned by Beijing

I’m still in holiday mode, sunning and sweltering in 40 deg C heat. Back to work and back online next week.

In the interim, here is an amazing BigD article from China. I have studied Mandarin for about four years now and I am keen to go to China. However dialysis in mainland China is currently not very reliable for visitors. This article, from the South China Morning Post, via the Wall Street Journal’s ChinaRealTimeReport, shows why:

Banned by Beijing: A DIY Dialysis Clinic

A DIY dialysis clinic in the outskirts of Beijing was recently shut down by health officials after more than four years in operation, according to the South China Morning Post.

The clinic, located in the courtyard in one of the capital’s suburban villages, was set up by kidney patients from rural China who couldn’t afford regular hospital care. In 2004, four patients pooled their money to buy two dialysis machines that had been discarded by a hospital. The group hired a nurse to show them how to operate the machines and welcomed other patients to join the self-styled cooperative, which at its peak had 17 patient-members. Upon joining, each of them agreed in writing that they would not hold any of the others responsible for any complications (including death) that occurred during their treatment at the clinic.

For the uninsured in China, the cost of dialysis can run as high as 10,000 yuan (US $1,463) a month, more than many rural workers earn in a year. And in China’s notoriously inefficient health care system, even those who receive health care subsidies can find the costs to be prohibitive.

“Even though I joined the ‘new rural medical co-operative system’ and was reimbursed 30% of the bill, I still needed to pay 5,000 yuan a month compared with the 1,000 yuan or so I’m paying now, including food and housing,” said Wei Qiang, a uremia sufferer who helped to found the clinic, according to the SCMP.

Several patients (and their families) had exhausted all their financial resources on costly hospital dialysis before turning to the DIY version.

But after the Beijing clinic came to the attention of health authorities, they shut the clinic down, taking the dialysis machines away and sealing off the room that housed them. They said patients of the clinic would receive free treatment until they could be returned to their hometowns.

Patients are devastated. “Without the machine, I will be gone within a year, and some of us are so poor that they will be dead within a month,” Wei told the SCMP.

I will post a more detailed review of the BigD in China in my next post.

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