As Ruble Nosedives, Russians Are Priced Out Of Live-Saving Western Treatment

Radio Free Europe | Radio Liberty | Claire Rigg

The parents of 3-year-old Volodymyr Lekhno are appealing for help after the ruble collapsed and they could no longer afford his kidney transplant at a special clinic in Belarus.

As the ruble continues its catastrophic tumble, hitting another historic low last month, the pain is being felt keenly across Russia.

Among those worst hit are patients in need of urgent surgery abroad or other life-saving treatment billed in foreign currencies.

"It all started with a bad cough and a lingering cold," says Viktoria Aksanova, 32, who was diagnosed with a severe form of Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in white blood cells, in 2011. "My son was 5 at the time. It was as though life had stopped."

After six rounds of chemotherapy, a bone-marrow transplant, additional high-dose chemotherapy, and two relapses, Aksanova is now awaiting a second bone-marrow transplant at a St. Petersburg hospital. She hopes the procedure will allow her to finally beat the disease and return to her home city of Krasnodar to care for her son, Kirill.

Like the majority of Russian patients with no siblings, Aksanova has been unable to find a donor in her country, whose organ-donation program is still in its infancy. Continue reading