Abandonment and divorce high among women with kidney-related disease in the country

A kidney recipient’s husband was asked whether he would abandon his wife after her kidney transplant surgery. He replied, “no”. And he stood by his word. He made sure he provided the care and support that his wife needs.

But this is not the case for many women who undergo dialysis or have undergone kidney transplantation. Many couples ultimately get divorced, and the women are left all alone to fend for themselves.

A kidney transplant patient had to go through a divorce, as her husband wanted babies, which she could not give due to her prevailing health condition.

The Executive Director of Bhutan Kidney Foundation (BKF), Tashi Dorji, said many women who are undergoing kidney dialysis or have done kidney transplants are either divorced by their partners, or are left alone to suffer with their children.

According to BKF, there are more women diagnosed with kidney diseases. Many women who are suffering from kidney-related diseases are more vulnerable, in terms of their mental health and worsening health condition due to social issues. Some of the women also face difficulties commuting to health centers where they can get the dialysis on time.

According to BKF, most husbands choose to leave the women as they are unable to conceive a child. The women are also treated as a burden, especially when the financial strains to pay kidney donors mount up.

“These are the concerns, and it is important to do some studies and come up with a social enterprise for these women,” said the ED, BKF.

He said that it is important to educate and advocate on this issue, so that the mentality and behavior of the men towards their wives can change for the better.

There are women who share their stories with BKF during peer counselling sessions.

“When the women were healthy, everything was going well, but the moment they had the disease, then all those social issues arise. There are women with children left by their husbands, and in the end, the children suffer,” he said.

He said the majority of the women undergoing kidney dialysis are illiterate and poor, but there are a few such cases among the literate as well.

Another challenge for the women is that they have to stay in a place where they can get access to dialysis in mainly urban areas, but their partner cannot be with them as they work in different dzongkhags.

Therefore, BKF is planning on how to make kidney patients, especially women productive citizens while they are on dialysis and after kidney transplant surgery. Also, BKF will look into how to enhance education on kidney donations and bring down divorce cases. The aim is to initiate a social enterprise for them so that the women will be engaged in productive work and focus on their health.

“We have been supporting these kind of cases, and we also look into the financial background where sometimes these women do not have any money to buy the basic necessities, and that’s where BKF help them in providing the essential items monthly, and education expenses for their children,” he said.

Because of the struggle with fighting the disease and social issues, BKF has seen patients’ health worsening.

As per BKF, the majority of kidney patients are women between 29 to 39 years of age, and most cases are from the southern and eastern regions. Kidney disease is preventable, but people with NCDs are more vulnerable to kidney-related diseases.

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