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Fear after Maria as dialysis patients Puerto Rico in 'desperate need' of help

Residents evacuate after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

More than a week after Hurricane Maria pummeled through Puerto Rico, major issues still plague the area.

“If these dialysis patients go another few days, a week, without treatment the sad news is they likely will die,” said Mike Spigler, with the American Kidney Fund.

Spigler is Vice President of Patient Services with the American Kidney Fund. He says so far, they’ve given out nearly $400,000 to patients impacted by recent hurricanes.

“Now that we’re talking eight to ten days past the time when Maria has hit the island, there are folks that are beyond in desperate need of help right now,” Spigler said.

He says there are likely several thousand dialysis patients still in Puerto Rico. He says patients typically need treatment three days a week for several hours at a time.

“The sense of panic in their voices, of trying to get these patients of the island—it’s heart-wrenching,” he said.

He says there are some dialysis centers set up and running on generators but with such devastation, it can be hard to get there.

“A good number of them that are up and running right now, many of them are saying, ‘We don’t know if we are going to be up and running tomorrow because we could run out of fuel, the fuel delivery might not come,’” he said.

Spigler says in Puerto Rico, three people in need of dialysis have died and he worries that number could climb.

“We have got to get more help in to assist with this as quickly as possible,” he said.

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