«There is no. Maybe after Christmas. They could be listed on a waiting list. Call every day tomorrow in case tanks arrive. We rent a machine for 7 thousand pesos per month and 15 thousand deposit. We sell a machine in 80 thousand pesos.» For every phone call looking for tanks and oxygen concentrators for COVID-infected relatives there is one of these answers, and while their oxygenation literally falls every minute, the desperation of those on the quest is unimaginable.
Getting oxygen could make a difference so patients with breathing difficulties can stabilize and survive. This time, as never before in the nine months of pandemic in Mexico, the demand caused a tank whose cost was 3 thousand pesos to double its price and the oxygen concentrators, appliances that connected to electric power and with a water device generate oxygen, went from 15 thousand to 80 thousand pesos, have relatives of patients.
Demand is explained by the increase in contagion that had not been recorded in the long months living with the virus. As of December 24, 12 thousand 485 new cases were added, a total of 1 million 362 thousand 564 confirmed cases.
Read: Exhausted and away from home: that’s how doctors fight COVID at Christmas
«One cannot perceive the magnitude of this until they are at the most critical moment. Even having the purchasing power, but there’s no supply of what’s needed and watching your family get worse is nerve-wringing,» says Paola Rodríguez after the search.
Luis Sanchez and his family also went through that desperation after his 87-year-old granny Julia began to have symptoms of COVID, but mostly when he began to have an oxygen saturation that dropped to 77, when normal is above 90.
By recounting the moment they got an oxygen condenser, he doesn’t hesitate to call it a «miracle» because they did so within three days of starting to look for him, while there are families that take weeks.
But remember also that those 72 hours become eternal. «It’s horrible. The moment oxygenation starts to fall, and every time you look they tell you there isn’t, not being able to do something and knowing that with oxygen it would be improving, but not being able to get it tied by hands and you go into hysteria.»
Find out: Pandemic and Christmas: the stories of how affected by COVID will live on Christmas Eve
In addition to him, his parents, uncle and a friend, handed out numbers of suppliers to try to get an oxygen machine because even the tanks wouldn’t be enough because they only lasted a few hours and to be able to recharge it they would need at least two.
Among the calls were those who offered to sell a machine for 60 thousand and up to 80 thousand pesos, when its price before the pandemic was 15 thousand pesos. Others rented it for 5 and 7 thousand pesos per month plus 15 thousand pesos deposit.
They also called each of the establishments that are mentioned in various lists circulating on Twitter, but nothing. They were enlisted on waiting lists and in some establishments were told to call at 10 a.m. every day in case tanks arrived.
Among all that search, a provider returned the call to tell them that a condenser had just arrived and rented them at 3,500 without a deposit payment. Clearly, says Luis, the supplier did it more for help than for business and that made it possible for Julia to stabilize. «It was a mega relief to have achieved it,» he says.
Paola Rojas also got the device thanks to the solidarity of strangers. Two of their relatives who prefer not to mention their name required oxygenation practically as soon as they were confirmed to be contagion of COVID. They, aged 64 and 72, had spent eight months locked up precisely because their age puts them in the vulnerable range. However, on 16 December they had to go out and complete a work process.
Read more: ‘I used to sell 10 pesos now I sell 1’: so have small businesses survived the COVID
Five days later, both began to feel fatigued, cold and after losing their sense of smell, their family got a private doctor to visit them and confirm the diagnosis. «She oxygenated less than 80 and then went down to 62 oxygen saturation. At that time it was already essential to get an oxygen concentrator so that it could be stabilized so that it does not have to move it to the hospital,» Says Paola.
First they looked for people who had already passed COVID and GPS to find out where to look for the oxygen machine or tanks. They passed them numbers of suppliers and places, but I couldn’t get it.
«There were no oxygen charges, there were rows for supply, in some places I was told to afterChristmas s. The closest I could get was 48 hours away, but the more the minutes went by, it was very desperate.»
Someone recommended uploading the petition to Facebook and Twitter and only did they get it. «It is extremely urgent for me to get a concentrator or oxygen tank, my family member is serious and there are no beds available in any hospital, neither public nor private,» he wrote in a tweet that reached more than 2,000 likes and generated 182 responses.
Because a neighbor of yours read the Post on Facebook, she was able to get a tank with a little oxygen yet. Hours later, a Twitter user wrote to tell him that he could lend him an oxygen concentrator at no cost, the only condition is that as soon as he vacates he can deliver it to someone else who needs it.
In solving the first urgency, both of Paola’s relatives are stable and therefore she calls on each other’s responsibility to size what this pandemic means. «We have to be more empathetic about the cause and cooperate, from prevention,» he says.
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