Form four student partially blind after taking methanol

Philemon Limo, a form four student at Mercy Mission Hospital in Baringo,. The student is partially blind, a condition he sustained after consuming Methanol . JULY 6, 2017. PHOTO BY MERCY KAHENDA

In about four months, Form Four students across the country will be sitting their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examinations.

But Kolowa Secondary School student Philemon Limo might not. He is now partially blind, thanks to the methanolhe consumed a week ago out of curiosity and peer pressure.

Limo was among eight students who drank the chemical after some of them stole it from the school’s laboratory.

The 17-year-old, who has been admitted to Mercy Mission Hospital in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County, is grateful to God for saving his life.

A Form Three student died on arrival at the hospital. Another who was admitted to the same hospital was discharged early this week. Five others were treated at  another hospital.

“Though I can walk without help, I am not able to read any book and I fear I might not be able to write national examinations,” he told The Standard.

“Even though I cannot see clearly, I am thankful because God spared my life. A Form Three student with whom I consumed the methanol passed on here,” Limo added.

The chemical, he revealed, was stolen by four students who had been asked by the laboratory supervisor to help him move equipment and chemicals to a newly-constructed laboratory.

The students consumed the chemical at night while the others were deep asleep.

Immediately after he drank the chemical, Limo said he felt sharp pains in the stomach, started vomiting and having diarrhoea.

Shortly after, he lost his eyesight and assumed that this was due to his drunken state.

The school’s head boy learnt about their predicament and they were rushed to Belbalo Mission Hospital, from where they were referred to Mercy Mission Hospital.

“My classmates influenced me to take methanol despite knowing it is harmful to our bodies. Immediately after consumption, I had severe headache, began vomiting and lost my eyesight,” he said.


When we visited the hospital, Limo was watching TV. Rubbing his eyes, he confessed that he could not see the on the screen as they appeared blurred and that he was only listening to the news.

The student said he had prepared adequately to write the national examinations and was optimistic he would pass well.

“I am optimistic that I will gain eyesight so that I can sit my KCSE exams to enable me realise my dream of becoming a doctor. I am tired of seeing people dying because of inadequate doctors and hospitals in my village,” he said.

He added: “I feel wasted at the hospital because other candidates are revising but, unfortunately, I have to be here because I cannot read and write,” he said.

The hospital’s clinical officer James Orodi said Limo was being monitored closely.

The boy’s condition, according to the officer, had improved but he was still unable to see things from a distance and to read.

“The candidate has shown some improvement. For instance, he is able to see bigger objects at close range, unlike before when he couldn’t see anything,” said Mr Orodi.

Methanol, he said, is toxic and can even damage organs and the central nervous system. “The ptic nerve is key and responsible for vision. Limo’s nerves were tampered with and that is why he has vision problem,” Orodi said.

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