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The Syrian American Medical Society and Bridge of Life collaborate

In April, a group of employees from DaVita Kidney Care division, volunteered with Bridge of Life (BOL) and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) to travel to Jordan to help examine and evaluate Syrian refugees for hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease.

After the examinations, BOL and SAMS volunteers held classes to encourage refugees to learn about how to improve their health. They hoped refugees would be able to learn the steps to preventing kidney disease or simply, how to detect it. Teaching these skills typically helps in slowing down further development of any possible disease.

Those whose test results came back as at high-risk for kidney disease were given the opportunity to meet with a nephrologist to further improve their knowledge about the disease. They were also registered in a follow-up program for more on-going support.

“As a nephrologist who has been on many SAMS missions before, I’ve never felt more impactful than during this mission,” Majd Isreb, mission leader and board member of SAMS, said in a press release, “We added an innovative component to this mission by including renal ultrasound to address some of the common causes of kidney disease that are common in the region.”

In a two-year study posted Iranian Journal of Kidney Diseases (IJKD) of 130 Syrian refugee children, 49.3 percent of the children had a kidney and urinary tract abnormality, or a chronic kidney disease.

“Funding ongoing dialysis treatments for refugees has been difficult for aid organizations,” Katie Chandler, BOL’s program director, said in a press release. “We wanted to better understand the prevalence of kidney disease among Syrian refugees, identify possible root causes and provide education to hopefully fill the gap between the health needs of this vulnerable population and the health care services available.”

For several years Syrian refugees had free healthcare services in Jordan until a recent decision. They are now required to pay the same price as other foreigners at public hospitals, according to

“Many heard about the Syrian crisis in the media, hurried to send donations or just prayed,” Maryam Ashtiani, dietitian and BOL volunteer, said in a press release. “But many, like BOL and SAMS, pulled their sleeves up and organized a medical mission. I was fortunate and honored to be chosen for this amazing and life-changing opportunity.”

SAMS is a global medical relief organization. They work, mostly in Syria, towards providing medical services to those who need it. This ranges from sponsoring hospitals to paying Syrian doctors to providing medical equipment.

DaVita Inc. created BOL as a nonprofit organization to help strengthen healthcare globally. DaVita is a healthcare company whose kidney care division is a well-known top kidney care provider in the United States. They are experts in working with individuals diagnosed with end-stage renal disease and chronic kidney failure.

The organizations decided to team together to decrease the kidney epidemic within Syrian refugees. Together the organizations not only are working to treat the diseases but also the prevent them.

BOL currently has a team in Syria working to promote education of chronic kidney diseases. They also have clinical, technical and standards of care trainings for in-country staff to provide the best help possible. In May, SAMS also opened its Center for Oncology Care in southern Syria to provide a clinic, pharmacy and labs for doctors.

The two have plans in progressing the collaboration to continue to provide examinations and health care services for Syrian refugees.


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