Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Global Links Offers Hope for Asthmatic Children Overseas

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Global Links Offers Hope for Asthmatic Children Overseas

Article excerpt

As a mother of a child with asthma, Angela Garcia has become used to the stressful uncertainty she feels every time her 8-year-old son almost stops breathing.

But she can race him in the car to the emergency room when these attacks occur. In parts of South and Central America and the Caribbean, where air is polluted by dust, burning garbage and open coal- or wood-burning cookstoves, many mothers must take their suffering children, gasping for air, on foot sometimes miles to a clinic or hospital.

Once there, only one or two nebulizers -- machines that change medication from a liquid to a mist so it can be inhaled more easily into the lungs -- may be available for a community of 10,000 to 300,000 people.

"If you don't have [a nebulizer], and you have young kids having a respiratory attack, you really don't have any options. Their airways are going to keep closing," said Ms. Garcia, deputy director of Global Links, a local nonprofit that donates medical supplies to domestic and international communities in need. She'd like Pittsburghers to identify with parents of children in those places.

"Can you imagine just walking down the Strip District, carrying your son [to get medical help]?"

To help fill these needs, Global Links has launched Breathe Hope, a campaign that collects and repurposes used nebulizers, worth $100 apiece, for communities with limited medical resources.

The first collection of electric nebulizers will take place 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today at the Assumption Church Rectory, 45 N. Sprague Ave., Bellevue. Unused nebulizer filters, masks and breathing sets also are needed.

Young children and the elderly who aren't coordinated enough or are too weak to use inhalers are the primary users of nebulizers. Each machine has an air compressor that transmits the medicine mist, which travels through a tube and is then released through a mask, delivering gradual relief, opening up tight airways. Global Links donates the machines, but must purchase the accessories and the recipient sites provide the medicine for the machines. …

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