Herlinda Hernández, academic advisor, and Michelle Petrucci, director of IUP’s Office of International Education, are informed that IUP student Berenice Lopez Gomez has been hospitalized in Puebla, Mexico. They are both notified that Berenice’s two kidneys have failed her. The hospital was giving her dialysis, and she was in a coma.
Hernández informs Lydia Rodríguez, Hispanic Heritage Council chair, of Berenice’s health condition and of the parents’ financial situation.
After much thought about whether to transfer Berenice to a hospital in Guadalajara or Mexico City, the parents decide to bring Berenice back to the U.S. Berenice remains in a coma and is flown into Harrisburg, Pa., and then taken to Hershey Medical Center. She is experiencing liver problems by this time.
Hernández notifies Rodríguez that Berenice is now in Hershey but is now experiencing difficulties with her liver and having heart problems. Physicians are unable to diagnose the condition.
The Hispanic Heritage Council meets and brainstorms about how to help Berenice. The idea of a fundraiser with food and dance workshops is born. From this point on, the council works inexhaustibly to put together the fundraiser.
Hernández visits Berenice in Hershey and reports that she has awakened from the coma. She can only speak a few words. Berenice still needs a kidney transplant. Hernandez reports that Berenice’s liver and heart problems have improved. No further details are given.
Berenice is still at the Hershey Medical Center. She is undergoing dialysis three times a week, and her doctors feel that if she has dialysis for three more months and continues to do well with the dialysis treatments, and her kidneys start to function normally, she may not need a kidney transplant after all. Plans will begin for her to have the dialysis in her hometown of Avondale, Pa. Berenice feels hopeful and her wish is to return to Indiana in August to continue her studies at IUP.
Berenice was released from the Hershey Medical Center and is now at home, undergoing dialysis three times a week in Jennersville, Pa. They are hoping her kidneys will function normally after three months on dialysis. She is now also taking five or six prescription drugs, with some being administered while undergoing the dialysis treatment. If her kidenys don't function well after three months, they will put her on a kidney transplant list, but the waiting period is four years! So, her family members are going to be tested for compatibility to see if one can be a donor, so she doesn't have to wait that long.
Bere remains hopeful and plans on returning to IUP this fall, so we are looking into the possibility of her being able to have dialysis in Indiana or at home, depending on where she happens to be during the academic semester.
Additional individual funds for Berenice were received. A final count of all monies was completed before sending it. The total amount was $2,713.00. The Hispanic Heritage Council sent the final amount to Berenice by registered first class mail. In a separate package, the Hispanic Heritage Council sent the large poster made of her for presentation during the fundraiser event, the program and the flyers that were distributed throughout the campus and distributed in Indiana and Pittsburgh.
Dr. Herlinda Hernandez called Berenice. Bernice confirmed receipt of donation funds and was very grateful. Dr. Hernandez has been in contact with Berenice's social worker Marianne Wolskee. According to Ms. Wolskee, Berenice is going to undergo a very thorough evaluation in Hershey on June 24 to determine if she is a good candidate for a transplant. If so, she will be placed on a priority list.
Berenice is still planning to get back to her studies as soon as she is able, but for now she has been undergoing dialysis three times a week--a process that takes four hours at a time.
Dr. Lydia Rodríguez called Berenice. Berenice confirmed receipt of the donation funds and the separate package containing the fundraiser information. She was overwhelmingly grateful for the generosity and support from the community.
Berenice is still undergoing dialysis three days a week. She states that some days are good, and other days are bad during and after the treatments. The bad days of dialysis include symptoms such as rapid heart palpitation, immense sweating, and nausea.
Presently, the doctor has her on a strict diet. He has eliminated all lactose, most of her legumes, and other foods. Her mother and sister help prepare Berenice’s special meals. Moreover, Berenice has a port through which she receives her dialysis treatments. Since the port remains open, Berenice must be extremely careful that it does not get infected. She informed Dr. Rodríguez that even for bathing, she needs her mother’s assistance.
On June 24, Berenice will be going to the Hershey Medical Hospital for transplant testing. Her brothers and sisters will also be tested as possible donors. Also, she is still on the list for a kidney transplant. She has Earnest Easter’s name and intends on calling him regarding his charitable offer of donating one of his kidneys if compatible.
Although Berenice is going through trying times, she keeps positive and hopes to return to her studies in the fall. Though, she is not sure if she will be able to return to IUP because she needs a lot of personal care and she needs to be close to her parents for this care. She is thinking of going to Millersville University of Pennsylvania. For her, this is a difficult decision as she has not reached one. Her heart is at IUP.
Dr. Rodriguez wished her well and a speedy recovery on behalf of IUP and the Indiana community, whichever university she decides to finish her studies. Moreover, Dr. Rodriguez advised her to think of her needs when making that decision.