Damaris Mbinya believes there is nothing under the sun that a mother cannot do for her child. She describes motherhood as “giving your all until you have nothing more to give.”
Motherhood has tossed her, pushed her to go on her knees in prayer, sent her to bed in silent weeps and she is now donating a part of her liver to her one-year-old son.
Little Emmanuel Gathogo was born with a liver condition that affects bile production. From the day he was handed to Mbinya, a three-kilogram baby boy, she sensed something was not right.
“His eyes were yellow. He cried a lot. I was always up. He would scratch his body all the time,” she says.
Further tests revealed that his bile duct was blocked. An operation to correct it did not work, and Mbinya says doctors told her the bile juice that is not being processed has corroded her son’s liver.
“Having a sickly child redefines motherhood. You are always worried. You try everything you can. You feel weak, defeated. Yet you have to be strong for your baby,” she says.
Her voice lowers and chokes in emotions when she talks about the sacrifices she has had to make, the sleepless nights in hospitals, the many doors she has knocked looking for financial help, the doctors whose offices she sat in and got a grim diagnosis of her son’s health and the number of house girls who have left because of the sickly child.
“One house girl sneaked and later called me saying she could not take it. She apologised saying it was too much,” she says.
When Mbinya was told her son needed a liver transplant, she says she did not think twice about being a donor.
“I almost leapt with joy when I was told I was a match and could donate. As a mother, you do not even think twice about giving a part of you to your baby. Motherhood is about giving,” she says.
Her biggest worry for now, is that even though she is ready for the procedure that would take her under the knife to save her son, she does not have the Sh3 million needed for the surgery that is scheduled to happen in India.
“As a mother, watching the child you painfully birthed suffering and you cannot do anything is the worst experience. You cry until there are no more tears,” she says.
Even in sickness, she says she would not trade motherhood for anything else. She hopes that she will get financial help and that someday, when she will be able to tell her son a story of healing, and what it means for a mother to love a child.
*To help Damaris, send contributions to:
Emanuel medical bill, paybill number 515210. Account name: Senders name