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Patients lose hope as illegal clinic shut down

TEN desperately ill patients said they have lost their last chance to live after the health authority shut a clinic they had set up for kidney dialysis in suburban Beijing.

They said knew the clinic was illegal, but they relied on it for their survival, the Beijing News reported.

They are all suffering from uremia, a disease associated with kidney failure. Urea and other waste products, which are normally excreted into the urine, are retained in the blood.

Patients need regular blood purification through dialysis to survive or undergo a kidney transplant, which is not as popular as it is costly and transplant kidneys are not readily available.

Beijing health officials shut the clinic yesterday after learning about it in a report on Friday's Beijing News, the newspaper said.

The original report was intended to draw public attention to and find help for the patients.

The 10 patients, from all over the nation, received the dialysis treatment at the clinic in Baimiao Village in Beijing's Tongzhou District. It uses second-hand equipment. The patients are charged 100 yuan (US$14.63) per treatment, compared with between 300 and 500 yuan at licensed hospitals.

The patients signed an agreement that they would accept any side effects, even death, because they wanted to live.

Beijing health officials said the health bureau would examine the 10 patients and offer them one or two free dialysis sessions. The officials suggested the patients go for dialysis at licensed medical facilities.

But the patients have refused the offer.

"The offer of one or two dialysis sessions is meaningless as we need lifelong treatment if we are to survive," Chen Bingzhi, one of the patients, said.

"It costs about 6,000 yuan a month to have the treatment at a licensed hospital. But the yearly income in my hometown is a mere 10,000 yuan," said tearful Li Lidan, 23.

A native of Changzhi County in north China's Shanxi Province, Li said she could not afford the treatment any more as her family is already burdened by debt.

Li had had a dialysis session once every five days in a hospital before coming to the clinic. She said she dared not drink or eat for fear that anything taken could become poisonous for her. She had felt happy with the clinic because she could afford the treatment.

"Without regular dialysis, we can't survive more than half one month," wrote Wang Xinyang, 28, in his diary.

Wang, a Beijing native, has relied on the treatment for survival for seven years. He was diagnosed wiith uremia in summer in 2002, shortly before graduating from a police school.

He set up the clinic in 2004 after buying three sets of dialysis machines with other two uremia sufferers.

At its peak, the clinic treated more than 17 patients, he said.

The patients had to handle all the technical work themselves as nurses dared not work in an illegal clinic, Wang said.

The price, though low enough compared to hospitals, was still too high for some patients, he said sadly.

Liu Fuzhong, from Chengde City of Beijing's neighboring Hebei Province, went home after a month's treatment at the clinic because he could not afford any more treatment. Without the treatment, he died five days later.


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