Reina Andrade was 37 years old. She was a dedicated mother, loving wife and inspiring Advocates for Responsible Care (ARxC) patient and volunteer. She was a certified teacher in Honduras. She was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. She came to the USA in 1998 to seek a better life and work for her husband. Her son, Bryan is 12 years old and born in the US in 2002, having full legal citizenship. Shortly after her son’s birth Reina was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). She became a Lupus and dialysis patient at Grady Hospital (GHS) in 2007. Reina suffered the pain and disability of Lupus and was a regular patient at the Grady Lupus Clinic. Reina had been hospitalized many times at Grady Hospital and was in a life-threatening state when she experience a tear in her aorta (the largest artery in the human body that distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body through systemic circulation).She was also a patient at the Grady Outpatient Dialysis Clinic and was one of the first patients to tell the Lupus Clinic staff in August 2009 that the Outpatient Dialysis Clinic was closing after she was notified by Grady staff.
Some concerned doctors and staff at Grady Hospital reached out to ARxC to advocate keeping the dialysis clinic open and protecting the access to treatment for the Dialysis patients. ARxC agreed to help filing a class action suit against Grady Hospital for abandoning treatment and through an action plan (ARxC Community Action Care Plan; CACP) that included elected officials, private dialysis providers, community and civic groups and concerned citizens. After two years of uncertainty and patient duress, in September 2011, an agreement was reached to continue scheduled dialysis treatment for the patients who were participants in the legal case. Reina was one of the first patients who joined the suit and became our first Jane Doe mentioned. Reina battled her Lupus and the dangers of hypertension with grace and hopefulness that she shared with the other ARxC dialysis patients. She was always ready to help and assist another patient or their family members. She was smart, compassionate and determined to get well.
Reina suffered another setback in 2011, while the battle raged to establish continued dialysis treatment for the Grady patients. At this time the patients were left to seek critical emergent dialysis care at the Emergency Rooms of our local hospitals. Feeling ill and in declining health, Reina was rushed to Emergency when she became unconscious because she had not been dialyzed causing her body to become toxic which could lead to death quickly for ESRD patients. Once she recovered; Reina was left scared and uncertain about the outcome of negotiations between GHS, Fresenius Inc. (a private dialysis provider, under contract with Grady Hospital) and ARxC. She made the difficult decision to return, with her son; to Honduras where her mother and other family lived with hope she would be able to get dialysis. Reina’s family made tremendous efforts to provide all what she needed. Their support was unending. They have been an amazing, caring and generous family. Reina’s passing is heartbreaking for them.
Unfortunately, Reina departed from the USA the day that an agreement was signed between Grady Hospital, Fresenius Inc. and ARxC. Originally, Reina received dialysis in Honduras, three times a week. In the last two months because the Honduran government was not able to pay providers and secure supplies, Reina was only able to receive dialysis one time per week. Her life-threatening condition required her to receive dialysis treatment three times per week. Two weeks ago Reina was hospitalized for severe hypertension (high blood pressure) and pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the air spaces of the lungs that can cause respiratory failure).
Reina died May 21, 2014 among her family members. She lives on in the hearts of her ARxC family and all who knew her. Her smile will always warm us and encourage us to stay strong. We know Reina’s tragic outcome is a plea to us to keep fighting for justice in providing healthcare access and protections to the most vulnerable ones. With your help, ARxC will continue to be the thunderous voice for those who are not heard. We will deeply miss her.