Awhile back, our sometimes neighbour called us from her home in Mexico City. She does this every so often, just to check on her house and, fill me in on any gossip she has heard from her other friends here in Nuevo. We have shared the same gardener for nearly 2 years now, and this time, during our conversation, she asked how our gardeners’ wife was doing? Apparently, she had been sick for quite some time, but I knew nothing about it. Hmm, come to think of it, our gardener, is normally a happy, chatty person. I had maybe noticed that he hadn’t been as cheerful these past few weeks, but I really didn’t think much about it.
So, on his next visit, I asked what was wrong with his wife. Because he has an accent I find extremely difficult to understand, I don’t get everything he says, but I was able to ascertain that she has some sort of tumour, possibly related to the female anatomy, but I honestly can’t say for sure. It sounded kind of personal, so I didn’t pry too much, but what I did get from the conversation was that she needed an operation.
Their health care is thru Seguro Popular, which I understand, is free to all Mexicans. I asked him why, if she was so sick, they had not operated already.
Turns out that one of the costs of this free service is that in order to get an operation, the patient must first come up with blood !! Yes, before she can have her operation, she is responsible for finding enough donors to get her thru the operation. I have limited understanding of all the details, but the bottom line appears to be no blood, no operation.
He continued to say it has been extremely difficult for them to find suitable donors and they had already exhausted their supply of friends and relatives. All of whom, while more than willing to donate have been deemed unsuitable donors by the hospital for a variety of reasons. At this point, I really had no choice but to tell him that I would love to try to help. He brightened and said “y el señor tambien?” Which meant that, Kevin also had no real choice but to step up to the plate as well.
You would think we could just march into a Red Cross or local branch of Seguro Popular and donate blood on someones behalf and get on with our day. Nope, not that simple.
Blood donations for a specific person must be made at the hospital that is treating the patient. They were using the hospital in San Pancho which only accepts blood donations on certain Mondays between certain hours, first come first served.
So, the appointed day comes, we wake early, have a light breakfast grab a coffee to go and are out the door by 6am so we can be there for 7am to meet our gardener and hopefully be among the first in line.
This hospital did not give me a good impression. It was dark, and the staff, while not unfriendly were certainly not friendly. The doctor interviewed us begrudgingly and seemed quite pleased to be able to kick us out of the queue because we had thoughtlessly eaten a bowl of Frosted Flakes before leaving the house. Telling our gardner that we screwed up so badly was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do.
The next appointment would not be for 2 weeks, and we would be on vacation in Canada then, so our second attempt at donating would be delayed another month. Because of that stupid mistake, his wife would not get her operation and will remain in pain while her tumour presumably grows.
In hindsight, this turned out to be a good thing, because in our absence, there was an emergency for which she had to be transferred to the Seguro Popular hospital in Pitillal. Our gardener was very happy with this, because the difference in hospitals is night and day! Aside from friendly staff who made them both feel like they were important, the biggest difference is that anyone can show up on on any day and get in the line up to donate blood!! Yay!
So, last Thursday, we drove to the hospital with our gardener, so he could be sure that our donation was credited to his wife. Wow, he certainly was right about the difference in hospitals! It truly did feel like the staff cared about what they were doing. We remembered not to eat before our appointment this time, so there were no snags and we were able to donate blood for our gardeners wifes’ operation, which, if I understood correctly will take place on the 24th of June.
As a way of thanking us, our gardener had us stop at the local taco truck so he could buy us breakfast.
Doing the right thing has a way of making us feel very humble.