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Home / Health & Science

Sickle cell: They said ‘I was next’ - 20-year-old Moses Obiero

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy ISAIAH GWENGI | Mon,May 31 2021 00:00:00 EAT
By ISAIAH GWENGI | Mon,May 31 2021 00:00:00 EAT

 Moses Odero at St.Elizabeth Lwak Mission Hospital [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard].

The St Elizabeth Lwak Mission Hospital’s wards in Siaya County were Moses Obiero’s second home for more than eight years.

At two, Obiero was diagnosed with malaria. His family watched their little one take pills, but the disease kept recurring. Obiero would be in and out of hospital for the next nine years before he was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia.

Sickle cell anaemia is a condition in which red blood cells develop a “sickle shape” or that of a crescent.

As opposed to normal cells, which are disk-shaped, the deformed ones are sticky and block blood flow through the veins and to the organs. The condition can be life-threatening.

Physical pain was not his only headache. Obiero was constantly taunted by his schoolmates and relatives and when “a neighbour’s child died of the disease and since everyone in our village knew what I was suffering from, they kept telling my parents that I would be the next,” Obiero recalls adding that his childhood was not normal as nurses forbade him from participating in strenuous activities. Unable to handle the stigma, Obiero’s father, Martin Oracha, decided to look for a solution.

“I kept wondering why my son was always getting malaria,” says Oracha. “I decided to seek specialized help, and that was how he was diagnosed with sickle cell disease,” and which he discovered has no cure.”

Consolata Oluoch, a nurse at the Lwak Mission Hospital recalls seeing Obiero get admitted on an almost weekly basis. But that was then.

Obiero sat his KCSE exams last year and is waiting to join Kenya Medical Training College and ““My dream was to become a neurosurgeon, but my condition could not allow me to stand in a theatre for long hours, so I opted to do health records,” says the young man who now helps out at St Elizabeth Lwak Mission Hospital where Health & Science team found him enthusiastically assisting the nurses.

“I thought my son’s life would have ended on his 18th birthday but today, he is 20 and counting,” says Oracha, adding that he has not only defied death and made a success of his life, but he is also currently assisting the nurses at the hospital where he was a perennial patient.

Obiero gallantly fought the disease whose symptoms showed up 18 years ago and today spends his free time giving talks to schools and hospitals to demystify sickle cell anaemia.

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