I served as president of my club for two consecutive years in 2006-07 and 2007-08, two very busy years. In those years, and the ones since, my club has undertaken a number of important service projects, including one to support a pilot bakery and an industrial sewing training room at a local school for underprivileged children. But perhaps the most memorable project so far has been one that we just completed in May.
As our club’s committee met to discuss projects for the 2011-12 Rotary year, we were approached by two longstanding members who had both recently lost loved ones, (one had lost his wife and the other a brother).
Their loved ones had both spent considerable time in the ICU at the local hospital in Guaxupé, where they had needed treatment for renal failure. Since the hospital lacked its own dialysis machine, patients and all their monitors were painstakingly loaded into an ambulance several times a week for a 200-yard trip to another building where they were unloaded for the four-hour procedure. The process was then reversed for the return trip to the ICU.
Local physicians confirmed that renal failure is a common problem for patients in the ICU, and is actually on the increase due to a greater rate of obesity and diabetes. So we applied for a Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation, and partnered with the Rotary Club of Central Chester County (Lionville), Pennsylvania, USA, to purchase a dialysis machine for the ICU. Together with a direct contribution from the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor, Michigan, the total project cost was US$25,300.
On 21 May, we inaugurated the new dialysis machine in the presence of a representative of our international partner. The two Rotarians who initiated the idea followed the ceremony attentively with pride, as tears fell down their cheeks.
They knew, and we all knew, that no ICU patient in the Guaxupé hospital will ever again have to suffer what their loved ones had to endure to receive dialysis.