Friday, 21 September

Cancer Cases Up 28% in Alaverdi: Two Year-Old Milena Is One of Them

Two year-old Milena Tiratsvyan was diagnosed with leukemia seven months ago.

Karen, the young girl’s father said that Milena was sent from the Alaverdi Hospital to the Arabkir Hospital in Yerevan for treatment.

“The child spent 18 days there. For two weeks all they did was take blood, nothing else,” says Karen.

The father paid $2,200 for those 18 days of hospital stay. On the nineteenth day, he quarrelled with Dr. Gayaneh Robertovna. “I told her I was taking my child out of here,” says Karen.

The hospital demanded that the father sign a waiver before discharging Milena. At home, the child’s situation worsened. They took Milena, now at death’s door, to Anahit Ghazaryan, a paediatrician in Akhtala.

According to Karen, the doctor said, “What can I do? The girl is practically dead.”

“I started crying and asked her where I should take my child. So she telephoned her daughter, who is a professor in Yerevan, and told her that a relative’s child was sick and to expect her. When we got to the hospital, Milena’s heart had already stopped beating. They immediately put her on an intravenous system and gave her a blood transfusion,” recounts Karen.

Milena’s mother says the child is now getting chemotherapy at Yerevan’s Hematology Center, but the treatments are expensive.

Karen works at the Akhtala Enrichment Plant and he’s already sold his car and other family items to pay for the growing medical bills. He says that Milena’s supervising physician Shakeh Hovannisyan has even lent him money to pay for medication.

“I want to thank her and the rest of the hospital staff for all they have done to save my child. I am also grateful to those who have helped out financially with what they can,” says Karen, who is now thinking about selling the family house.

In 2012, 595 cases of malignant tumours were reported at the Alaverdi Medical Center, an increase of 113 over 2011.

As of January 24, 2013, of the 516 cancer patients registered at the Center, 311 are woman suffering from breast and ovarian cancers.

Dr. Haroutyun Mikayelyan told Hetq that there are many individuals in the region who are suffering from cancer but have yet to seek medical help.

Dr. Mikayelyan noted that there is no government funding for health prevention and early screening programs. “The unemployed aren’t getting proper medical screening. Women make up a majority of this sector," he said.

The physician confessed that he often prefers not to tell terminal cancer patients about their medical situation.

“If I am convinced that one of my patients has a chance to keep the cancer in remission, I will tell them; if not, I opt not telling them,” Dr. Mikayelyan said.

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Comments (3)
1. zohrab12:54 - 25 March, 2013
i can tell all this is happening because of the copper smelter being in the centre of alaverdi if anyone should help its the smelter who should pay just check what they are discharging from their smoke stacks
2. Jay10:14 - 26 March, 2013
Metal ions play an important role in biological systems, and without their catalytic presence in trace or ultratrace amounts many essential co-factors for many biochemical reactions would not take place. However, they become toxic to cells when their concentrations surpass certain optimal (natural) levels. Copper is an essential metal. Catalytic copper, because of its mobilization and redox activity, is believed to play a central role in the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as O2-* and *OH radicals, that bind very fast to DNA, and produce damage by breaking the DNA strands or modifying the bases and/or deoxyribose leading to carcinogenesis. The chemistry and biochemistry of copper is briefly accounted together with its involvement in cancer and other diseases.....Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2002 Apr;42(1):57-64.
3. Jay10:21 - 26 March, 2013
Soils around that area might contain a high concentration of Copper compounds which probably would reach the locals through eating vegetables, fruits, etc. grown in that area. There is a possibility of Copper contamination in the water column (drinking) too. ....All these need to be checked first before one can conclude...:-( Sulfur dioxide that is produced in the process of copper smelting is also hazardous to health (not a proven carcinogen though) once it crosses the permissible limit in the environment....Is there any study that shows the amount of catalytic copper in those mining areas? AFAIK, there is Arsenic (As) too in those mining areas (I remember of having come across such reports)...I wish baby Milena to win this battle....:-)..She'll be in my prayers...
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