Silence again beat out hope the night of Wednesday, January 29th at the Jose Manuel de Los Rios Hospital in Caracas. After an intense struggle to overcome his fifth relapse in two years, Julio Cesar Rangel, 11, died at the hospital’s hematological service.
The boy had been diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2018 and had survived a heart attack and an emergency appendectomy before that. The last 17 months of his life he spent outside Apure, his home state, to become the first boy to die awaiting a transplant at the hospital in 2020.
He was diagnosed while being treated for varicella: blood tests came back irregular. In September 2018, specialists in Caracas ratified the initial diagnosis: leukemia.
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Susana Pachano, head of the hematological service, confirmed the passing of Julio Cesar to El Pitazo. She added that the boy had several infections staff could not contain in time. The boy had to spend the last two months of his life intubated, because of a respiratory deficiency.
The family is awaiting the official report on the boy’s death since Julio Cesar was also suspected of having contracted a blood disease during one of several transfusions at the hospital.
Rangel became the tenth minor to die in hematology between January 2019 and 2020 at the hospital, according to a tally being kept by El Pitazo. Nahia Pernalete, one month shy of three years old, died November 30th and Crisbelys Rujano, 3, died December 1st. The transplant was the only option for most of them, as the hospital cannot offer other therapies.
Transplants in all of Venezuela were suspended by the Fundavene foundation in mid-2017. The Nicolas Maduro regime said at the time that awaiting patients would be operated in Cuba, but so far only death has reduced the number of patients awaiting transplant.