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Welder who lost right arm and leg longs for an end to painful medics' strike

By Brigid Chemweno | Published Wed, January 11th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 10th 2017 at 22:28 GMT +3
Godfrey Ninga Abich. [Photo/Brigid Chemweno/Standard]

Three months ago, Godfrey Ninga Abich, 38, the sole breadwinner in his family of four, was in perfect health.

Until an incident at his workplace cost him his right hand and leg.

"Someone brought a wheel for welding. I told him to deflate the tyre first, but he resisted. When I tried to weld the rim, the tyre burst," he says.

He was bent over the wheel, and the full force of the metallic rim rammed on his right hand and leg, slamming the brakes on his welding career, and putting him on a painful journey to hospitals - a journey made more painful by the ongoing doctors' strike.

"I was first rushed to St Camillus Mission hospital in Karungu, Migori County, where my right leg was amputated immediately," he says.

After a day, he was referred to Homa Bay sub-county hospital, where he stayed for three days without being attended to. By the time he was transferred to Coptic hospital, it was too late, doctors said his right arm too had to go.

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Being a private hospital, the father of four knew he could not afford to stay long at Coptic Hospital. Now with one arm and one leg and barely recovered stumps where his right arm and leg used to be, he insisted on going home to seek services at a public hospital.

"I had been admitted at the hospital for three months and accumulated a medical bill of nearly Sh1.3million. I paid part of it through NHIF and my savings but I still had a balance of Sh354,000," he says.

He was discharged from Coptic on December 4, 2016. The next day,  doctors in public hospitals went on strike.

Abich was trapped.

He could not go back to a private hospital where he still owed Sh354,000 in uncleared medical bills, and now, he could not get his amputated arm and leg checked in a public hospital.

In the past one month, the stumps that were left of his right arm and leg have developed festering wounds. Abich fears they are rotting away.

"The remaining part of the amputated arm has developed a lot of wounds and it is now oozing pus; the remaining part of the amputated leg is painful too," he says.

It is now three months since he last placed a morsel of food on the family table, something that he has faithfully done for nearly two decades from his welding job.

Still, Abich is not sure what hurts more, between the pain of watching the remaining part of his arm rotting away or watching his family quietly suffer - with its sole breadwinner bedridden.

Sometimes when the pain becomes unbearable, he wishes doctors at Coptic cut off his entire arm just so as to put to an end to three months of excruciating pain.

"My arm hand was broken near the armpit. The remaining part was never removed, but instead fitted with a metal plate," he says.

If the doctors were not on strike, he says, perhaps his tribulations would be less painful.

"I want to go to Kenyatta National hospital for another operation," he says. "I am going through pain of untold proportions. I cannot sleep; I cannot sit. I need urgent treatment," he says.

Being the sole breadwinner in his family, Abich has since been reduced to relying on well-wishers for support. However, he has since accepted that his life may never be the same again.

"Using my left hand has been a problem to me but I have no choice. I have confidence that I shall be well," he says.

All that he needs to get back on his remaining foot, he says, is  quick, affordable and secure treatment. Then, he says, he can pick up the remaining pieces of his life.

"My hope is that doctors go back to work so that I can go for treatment. I need a permanent solution to this," he says.