Medics’ strike turns cancer-stricken boy and mother’s lives upside down
HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY ADHIAMBO | Wed,Mar 08 2017 00:00:00 EATBy MERCY ADHIAMBO | Wed,Mar 08 2017 00:00:00 EAT
August 8, 2010-June 2014
Granius Waweru is born in Shinyalu, Kakamega County, weighing 3.8kg. He goes through his development milestones ahead of schedule.
When he joins nursery school, he is so active that his mother Gertrude Lusia nicknames him: “Unstoppable”. He tops his class in first term. “He would wake up before everyone and demand to be taken to school,” says Lusia.
June 11, 2014
Granius comes home complaining of a headache. His grandmother takes him to Kakamega District Hospital where he is diagnosed with malaria. He is put on injections, and his former jolly self creeps back.
September 12, 2014
Granius comes from school looking pale and his breathing is laboured, and requests for medication. He is taken back to hospital, and gets a new diagnosis: Pneumonia. He is given a cocktail of medication with an assurance that everything will be fine.
March 24, 2015
Granius refuses to wake up. He says he is too tired to go to school. His grandmother notices streaks of blood at the corner of his mouth. She calls Lusia who is a casual labourer in Nairobi to inform her of her son’s deteriorating condition.
Lusia travels to Kakamega and finds Granius admitted to hospital. His body is getting weaker with each passing day. Doctors are however puzzled at his new symptoms. They refer him to Kenyatta National Hospital, saying they don’t have facilities to do a full body scan to determine what ails Granius.
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Lusia boards a bus with her ailing son to go to KNH. She cannot afford an ambulance, so she opts for public transport.
“In the bus, he convulsed in my arms twice,” says Lusia. Granius is so weak, that he seems to be drifting in and out of consciousness.
June 5, 2015
Kenyatta National Hospital gives a diagnosis, two weeks after Granius was admitted in the facility. He has blood cancer (leukemia) and has to embark on treatment immediately. It will cost Sh8,000 to start the treatment, and an additional Sh150,000 after his first round of chemotherapy.
“I sold everything in my house, including the gas cylinder I use for cooking. I even started begging from strangers,” says Lusia.
June 6, 2015 – December, 2016
Granius is put on intense chemotherapy and radio therapy. His former self fades, as the medication takes over his little body. He stops going to school. He loses hair. He loses sense of taste, and on the third session of chemotherapy, he loses his sight.
“One morning, I saw him groping the wall. I asked him what was wrong, and he said he could not see me,” says Lusia.
When Lusia takes him to hospital, she is told it is a side effect of chemotherapy, and he will regain sight when he finishes his dose. He starts regaining strength. Despite his lack of vision, Granius maintains curiosity, constantly asking about his surrounding, and when he will go back to school.
January 9, 2017
Granius is due for his eighth round of chemotherapy. When his mother calls the hospital, she is told due to the doctors strike treatment has been put on hold.
January 28, 2017
Granius keeps tossing and turning in bed. His mother notices a seizure gripping his frail body. She holds him and prays. A few seconds pass, and his body calms down. He asks his mother to take him to hospital. “He doesn’t know what a strike means, so he gets irritable and thinks I am refusing,” says Lusia.
February 1, 2017
Lusia carries her son on her back and heads to Texas Cancer Centre in Hurlingham. His mouth is covered in sores and he keeps telling his mother not to touch him.
“Placing my hand on his skin makes him cry,” says Lusia. At Texas Cancer Centre, she is asked for Sh40,000 admission fee. Catherine Nyongesa, the chief executive officer, says the doctor’s strike has overwhelmed private institutions. “We want to help, but we also need to keep facilities working, and those facilities need money,” says Dr Nyongesa.
Lusia breaks down at the reception desk and weeps. “Everything was failing. I couldn’t even afford my house rent in Kawangware, where was I to get 40,000 shillings?” she says. She is admitted to the hospital, but the administrators tell her to appeal for help from well-wishers.
February 5, 2017
The octologist notices Granius’ cancer cells have multiplied. He has relapsed, and the disease seems to be spreading fast. The medic at the Texas laboratory, Evelyne Soi, says Granius needs an urgent blood transfusion to stabilise his platelets for them to start a new round of chemotherapy. Lusia appeals for blood.
She approaches strangers, posts on Facebook, and makes calls to all his friends. Donors assemble at the hospital to donate. When they think they have enough, they are given bad news. Texas does not have a machine to extract platelets. The one at KNH that they have heavily depended on is broken. They will have to wait.
March 1, 2017
They are still waiting. The machine is still broken. Granius’s condition has got worse. He can no longer stand on his own. He spends his days sleeping, and begging his mother to make the pain go away. His gums are bleeding. He refuses to eat. Dr Nyongesa says chemotherapy can only begin when platelets are available.
“Where do we get platelets?” Lusia keeps asking. The ones available at private hospitals cost an average of Sh45,000. Lusia cannot afford it. So she sits next to her son and cries.
March 3, 2017
A psychotherapist calls Lusia aside and tells her to embrace God. Her son’s condition is worsening, yet there is nothing much they can do.
March 7, 2017 KNH says they are in the process of procuring a new platelets machine.
“There is a component that malfunctioned, so we are getting another one soon,” says KNH’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Kibet Mang’ich.
Meanwhile, Lusia continues waiting, praying and hoping that things will fall into place, and her son will get the treatment he needs urgently.
To support Granous contact 0708619482
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