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Jun 9, 2011

Healthy Living visits a 16 year old Belizean on dialysis

In this segment of Healthy Living we catch up with an amazing teenager. She is only sixteen but already her strength and fortitude are being tested. Iriscelda Magana travels from her village regularly to Belize City for dialysis treatment.  The trips and expenses are taking a toll on her as well as her family. She needs a kidney transplant which is not available in Belize and is prohibitively expensive. But even in the face of the many challenges, Iriscelda perseveres.

Marleni Cuellar reporting

This June while most children her age are prepping for prom, graduation and the like; sixteen year old Iriscelda Magana prepares for another journey from her quiet village of Valley of Peace to Belize City for one of her three weekly visits for a process that keeps he alive: Dialysis.

Iriscelda Magana, 16 year old Dialysis Patient

“When I was younger I got two operations and I knew I was sick and I had a blockage in the kidney.  They told me that I had to get another operation I had already had a first one and they told me I had to do another one. I started at thirteen and I was home and I felt very weak and so they brought me to Belize City and I started with the dialysis.”

Cecilio Eck

“The history of it is that at about age 8 or nine she develop problems with the kidney and she was being followed up by the late Dr. Rosado our pediatric nephrologist. When he passed away she defaulted from follow up and basically he defaulted from treatment. The issue was that the urethra which is the tissue that connects the bladder became obstructed on both sides. She had tried to have it repaired in Chetumal and those surgeries failed.”

Dr Eck met Iriscelda almost a year after her previous physician had passed on Christmas Eve in 2007; at that point both her kidneys had stop functioning. Iriscelda was born with vesico-urethra obstruction, essentially a blockage in the passage between the bladder and the kidneys. After her failed surgeries, the blockage caused her kidneys to stop functioning.  At 13, she had complete renal failure.

Iriscelda Magana

“When I first came I just thought I was going to do some exams that is what they told me and when I got here I realize I have to be here on this dialysis machine and I felt bad.”

Iriscelda Magana

Without functioning kidneys Iris must rely on a machine to cleanse her blood three times each week and carry out what is the normal function of the kidneys.

Dr Cecilio Eck

“Right now as we speak our kidneys are working to remove waste products from the body from the blood. So the kidneys actually to simplify it sieves or strings out the bad products from the blood. Some of the good products the kidney re-absorbs those and dumps the bad products in the urine and we pass it out.  A dialysis program mimics what the kidney does. A very strenuous process, because we mimic what your kidney is doing throughout the day in short sessions three times a week—a big change in the blood concentration and the products and those waste products in the blood in a short duration of time and you try to push all that work through the machine, remove clean and put back in three times a week.”

That is where we met with Iriscelda, at the Miguel Rosado Dialysis Center in Belize City where one of the center’s three trained dialysis nurses prepared her body to have the blood extracted, cleansed by the artificial kidney and returned to the body in a 3 hour dialysis treatment.

Nurse Ingrid Gomez, Dialysis Nurse & Manger Miguel Rosado Dialysis Center

Ingrid Gomez

“We have two lines, the red and the blue the red line is the one that will take out the blood from the body into the dialyzer, the dialyzer is the one that is artificial kidney. There is where everything happens where the blood is cleansed, the water is removed everything happens right in that kidney. Then the blue one once it goes into the artificial kidney, it’s been cleaned and then returned to the body through the blue line. So that is basically what is happening. What it is removing is waste, chemicals water from the body which is the main problem from them because they accumulate a lot of water since the kidney is not functioning well. So they are unable to release the water that they are not using.”

Iriscelda Magana

“I do this every three times a week it’s hard because I get very tired. Thanks to all the people that help and so I can be able to afford some of the medicine and other expenses.   I live in Valley of peace. My father works very hard to afford my treatments and I stay home with my mom and try to help her at home. I don’t go to school because I have to miss too much classes to do my treatments.”

Arturo Magana

Arturo Magana, Iriscelda’s Father

“It has been very difficult. Her mother is taking it hard. She has problems with her nerves and is also taking medication for that. We worry for our children and we hope for them to be healthy but sometimes that is not the case.  At times I don’t even have money to buy gas for that car. I have to buy her medication that costs one hundred and fifty dollars. Before I use to buy medication that cost one hundred and eighty-five dollars, while another would cost one hundred and fifty dollars, but I can’t afford that anymore. Sometimes I don’t know how I do it. But the Lord is there for me. When I most need it, there are generous people who are there to help me.”

Iriscelda is currently receiving her dialysis treatment through the courtesy of the Ministry of Health, but if the expenses of travelling to Belize City and affording medication weren’t enough of a challenge, there’s also a constant need for blood due a lack of red blood cells, a common side effect of dialysis.

Nurse Ingrid Gomez

“If they’re blood level is low unfortunately I cannot put them on the machine. They need their dialysis if they come and their blood is low and they cannot get a donor or they have no means to get the blood because I have to send them home until they have the blood. If I put them on the machine I may have the risk of losing them on the machine.”

Dr Cecilio Eck

“Children and adults when they’re on dialysis need to get electropoytne. It is imported into the country in a cold case and has to be kept under a certain degree. Usually its give twice a week. The price is very prohibitive. Literally its cheaper to do transfusions when your hemoglobin level falls than to pay for electropoytine.”

Arturo Magana

“Sometimes I leave here and go look for someone who can give at least a bag of blood. Because if there is no blood, then you die. I give blood as well and also my son. But it’s very difficult. Sometimes I don’t know what to do.”

It’s a difficult situation for someone at any age. Sometimes, hopelessness takes effect; it’s something Arturo says he discourages as best he can.

Marleni Cuellar

“What are your hopes for your future?”

Iriscelda Magana

“I don’t have any because waiting for the transplant and you know its I don’t have any hopes.”

Arturo Magana

“At times, when we are on our way home she tells me that she would prefer to die. Why?  I ask her. She says she suffers too much and she thinks I am suffering too, especially when I have to be taking her everywhere. No I tell her. Don’t say that. We just need to continue fighting to survive. We need to be strong and pray to God to give us the courage to move on. She calms down a bit but at times she really takes it hard, since she knows we don’t have the money.”

The only thing that will change this teenager’s reality is a transplant. The family once came close to having the surgery but the donor backed out.

Dr Cecilio Eck

“For Iriscelda specifically if she should lead a long productive life she needs to get a match, she needs to get a transplant and this should happen as soon as possible.”

Marleni Cuellar

“What is the process here in Belize for cases like her where a donor is needed?”

Dr Cecilio Eck

“There is none. None publicly or privately.”

But  all hope is not lost, and while her life is very different than most children her age, she still finds joy in the simpler things and spreads a message of hope to others who are suffering.

Iriscelda Magana

“I like to sweep and wash dishes and wash my clothes.  I also like to go to church and I have a neighbor and I like to go over and spend time with her.  I would like to tell everyone who is suffering to be strong and that like goes on. And I would like to thank my father and to all my family I love you very much.”

If you would like to help Iriscelda and her family, they can be contacted at 662-6283. You can also make blood donations on her behalf as well at the local Blood Banks.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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17 Responses for “Healthy Living visits a 16 year old Belizean on dialysis”

  1. Truths says:

    There is a drink specially produced for persons on dialysis its called NEPRO. It’s not found here in Belize. It would be proper and would help many if the pharmacies would start importing it , it comes in bottles resembling ensure. My sister is on dialysis it has helped her tremendously.

    It basically replenishes what a person looses during a session of dialysis.

    I hope this helps.



  3. RedGyal Belize says:

    It is sold in the United States the website is it cost $77.00 for a case of 24. It comes in 3 flavors berry, vanilla, and butter pecan. I hope that this helps.


    What about ROTARY and these orgs that help out kids in need of medical attention? Why haven’t they helped this child? She’s been on TV since 2 years now asking for assistance, but to no avail! Is it because she’s “alien” like one of our Cabinet Ministers puts it?

    I wonder what the Ministry of Health has to say about Iricelda’s case since her health condition certainly cannot be attributed to her “lifestyle choices”

  5. CLEANHEART says:


  6. luis caliz says:

    hi i need a # that i can contact her family i wat to make a donetion i did not gat the # on the nwes

  7. Avid Reader says:

    Our prayers go out to her and her family. My brother just recieved a double organ transplant after many years on insuline and later dialysis. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, the multiple needles and blood tests every day is a !@#$@h. God watch over he and her family.

  8. Concerned Bzean says:

    ROTARY like many other orgs,, are business that benefit a few,, I’m with you “ROTARY, WHERE ARE YOU?’ This child has been asking for help and unfortunately seems like no one cares,, I understand that she do have a person willing to donate her a kidney, Minister of Health could do something about it if they would have the sympathy to help her.

  9. I Have Awaken says:

    Hey, don’t the Manager of BEL gets paid $8,000,000 a years (I am still walking around saying WTF); maybe he can donate some money to this little girl.

    I would be in total shock if Dean Barrow would actually, one of these days, make a kind gesture and help a fellow Belizean out of all those millions and millions he have stolen from us. Hell it would be a publicity stunt like no other on his part.

  10. Sad says:

    Pls ppl don’t blame Rotary for not helping in this case …we don’t know that’s the case .Everyone expects Rotary to help and this group can’t help everyone.They do as best they can.Don’t forget pls.

    I was sadden by this myself as a mom it completely touched my heart .Wish I could help
    My prayers and thought are with this family.God bless them and hope that someone that can help comes along soon.

  11. ROTARY, WHERE ARE YOU? says:

    “CLEANHEART´ has probably just forgotten to take her pills for stupidity this morning so I’ll forgive her.

    Dialysis is a temporary fix for many patients like Iricelda. I know what you mean “avid reader” and apart from the expensive dialysis sessions, there are so many after costs like medications, tests, blood transfusions, and hospitalizations due to infections and other complications of Dialysis and kidney failure. Ultimately, a transplant is the best solution for a kid like Iricelda, who’s has been begging for assistance since she was 14 years old.

  12. Carlos says:

    Hi Luis Caliz,, number to contact her family 607 7989.. Any help is appreciated..

  13. Raul Miranda says:

    Let’s work together for Iriscelda and her family. Prayers are good but some times not enough – they really need a donation right away! It can be done through western union ( ARTURO MAGANA).
    Thank you very much!
    011 501 662-6283

  14. Raul Miranda says:


  15. Raul Miranda says:



  16. Alba Miranda says:

    My prayers are with Iriscelda and her family. Scripture from the bible:

    Deuteronomy 15:10
    Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

  17. Frand F. Ortiz says:


    I consider my self to be a healthy 20 year old girl.

    I will like to help her by (donating mine) but I’m also kinna scared at the same time. I will like to know what would be the medical/legal procedures for a kidney donation? Besides being compatible.

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