By Lisbeth Barboza Ruiz.
Jose Miguel, a boy of just 13, died in Coro, Falcon state, as much a victim of the ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela as he was from an untreated snake bite.
In the early morning of this Wednesday, October 21, Jose Miguel Loyo Lopez, 13, died in the intensive care room of the hospital in Coro, Falcon. He got admitted with a snake bite last Tuesday night, and his family was waiting for a dose of snake-bite serum that never arrived because the person who would bring it from Maracaibo, the city four hours away, could not get transportation.
You must read The agony and the avoidable death of nurse Hilda
Firefighter Luis Contreras of the INEA fire department in Maracaibo, who had several doses, could not bring the medication because he did not have any way of transportation.
Contreras said that since last weekend, 16 cases of snake bites have been admitted to hospitals in the states of Zulia, Lara, Barinas, Merida, Trujillo, and Falcon. They are all waiting for a dose of the serum.
Venezuela is suffering a severe gasoline shortage that has inversely impacted public transportation. A round-trip bus ride between Maracaibo and Coro could cost up to $100.
The mother of the teen victim, Mariela Lopez, explained that her son got bitten by a Terciopelo (Velvet) snake, a very poisonous species. The injury was on his right foot when he was going home with a fellow student in the Santa Cruz de Bucaral town in the mountainous municipality Union.
Immediately, according to the mother, he was taking to the ambulatory. There, the staff on duty told them that they did not have the snake-bite serum, so he had to be taken to the Alfredo Grieken University Hospital in Coro, which did not have the serum either.
In less than 12 hours, the boy died. Mariela said that her son died slowly.
“We were unable to locate the serum. We visited pharmacies in the city. We got contacted with the major Luis Contreras of the marine fire department in Maracaibo, an expert in snake bites who had several doses, but he could never get there because he had no way to get to Coro,” said Ms. Lopez.
Major Contreras himself explained, through a WhatsApp message, that he went to the National Guard post on the bridge over Lake Maracaibo to ask the truck drivers passing through Falcon for a ride. But they refused, claiming that their bosses forbade them to pick up strangers and give rides, even when was using his firefighter uniform.
Mariela Lopez denounced the shortage of the serum. Meanwhile, other people with bites remain in the hospital waiting for the serum, such as Esleida Xiomara Sanchez, who is also from Santa Cruz de Bucaral. She is a park ranger and was admitted with a snake bite last Saturday, October 17.