In August, rain and flooding overwhelmed a water treatment plant in Jackson, Mississippi. For weeks, many people were left with unsafe water — or no water at all. For people with kidney disease, it was an especially dangerous situation.
T.J. Mayfield of the Mississippi Kidney Foundation says many people with kidney disease need dialysis — a treatment that removes toxins from the blood.
“It acts as an artificial kidney and essentially keeps a lot of people alive,” he says.
Contaminated water puts dialysis patients at risk of infection because it’s critical that they keep the access port for their treatments clean.
And in hemodialysis, a machine filters their blood outside their body. The treatments require lots of clean water, so to stay open, many clinics in Jackson had to quickly find and get water deliveries by truck.
“You can only imagine the pain, the emotional struggle it is for a lot of people, including the nurses, including the social workers,” Mayfield says.
And he fears they’ll face these problems again. He worries that the city is not prepared to protect its fragile water infrastructure — especially as climate change brings more extreme weather.
“It’s stressful, it’s heartbreaking, because it seems like there’s no end in sight,” he says.
Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media