Poor student wants hand amputated due to swelling

Cynthia Nekesa's left hand. The swelling started as a small inflammation when she was six years old. [Ignatius Odanga, Standard]
What started as a small swelling on Cynthia Nekesa's left hand has now become a major problem that has complicated her entire childhood.

When the swelling started, Nekesa's parents, Francis Wanakawa and Roselyne Awino, thought it would just disappear. However, it did not go away. Today, the swelling has become so heavy that Nekesa has difficulties walking.

The Form Three student at Tingolo Secondary School in Butula Constituency can only attend lessons three times a week.

The 18-year-old has to lean on her right to balance the extra weight in order for her to walk.

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During the interview with The Standard at her parents home in Masendebare village, Nekesa had to sit on the edge of her desk to have enough space to rest her swollen hand.

And she does not like the way other students keep staring at her because of her condition.

Doctors have referred to Nekesa's condition as neurofibromatosis, according to a discharge form from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital dated September 6, 2006.

Neurofibromatosis is a genetic condition that causes tumours to grow in the nervous system. According to hospital records, Nekesa was six-years-old when she was admitted to hospital because of her condition.

She was admitted on August 13, 2006 and underwent surgery. Doctors recommended regular checkups to manage her condition, whose cure is yet to be found, but this has not been happening because of financial constraints.

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A frustrated Nekesa now wants the hand amputated altogether.

"I just want this hand amputated so I can have some peace. It is too heavy and painful," says Nekesa.

"I don't like the way people look at me on the road. I wonder if I will ever find a solution to this problem. I desire to live a normal life," says Nekesa.

The teenager says it has been hard for her to concentrate on studies because of the hand.

"I am unable to walk for long. I get tired fast because of the extra weight. That is why I only go to school thrice a week," she says.

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Her father, Wanakawa, moved to Nairobi early this year to look for a job so he can raise money for the treatment of his second born.

He is currently working at a construction site in Rongai in Kajiado County. Mr Wanakawa is hopeful his daughter will live a normal life.

“I empathise with my daughter, especially when the hand starts paining. She wails yet I cannot do anything to ease her pain,” says Wanakawa.  

He adds: "The swelling did not seem to be a major problem when we discovered it. We thought it would just disappear. However, we were shocked when it continued growing. We would take her to local health facilities where she was given medicine to ease the pain but this did not take away the swelling."

The Deputy Principal of Tingolo Secondary Andrew Biketi said Nekesa has been pleading with teachers for help.

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“The girl is ever absent but we understand. The hand is too heavy for her and distance from her home to school is also long,” says Biketi.

Nekesa and her sister, who is also a student at the same school, depend on bursary from the Butula Constituency Development Fund.

Busia CountyCynthia NekesaTingolo Secondary Schoolneurofibromatosis