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Boy struggles with kidney failure

Health & Science

By Caroline Nyanga

As his age mates play outside, Jeremy Waigwa is confined in the house where he sings or plays with toys.

His kidneys have failed, leaving him paralysed and only able to crawl. "When he is around other kids, he tries hard to prove that he is normal," says his mother, Ms Mary Njeri Waigwa.

Jeremy, 3, has been in and out of hospital all his life and his mother has spent thousands of shillings on treatment.

But you cannot tell his woes when you meet him for the first time.

At the start of our interview, he asks for a pen and paper then scribbles the letters of the alphabet. Done, he sings: Baby Jesus I love you. You are my saviour everyday. Toto yesu wewe ni mwokozi wangu kila siku (Baby Jesus is my saviour everyday …

Five months into her pregnancy, Waigwa developed complications causing the amniotic fluid — the liquid that surrounds the foetus — to leak. "I was treated, but the problem re-occurred during the seventh month of my pregnancy."

Uterus infection

Medical scans disclosed she had a severe uterus infection and that her unborn child had Posterior Urethral Valves, a congenital condition that occurs as a result of excess flaps of tissue in the urethra —the tube that drains urine from the bladder for excretion.

Experts say excess tissue blocks or reverses the flow of urine and affects organs in the urinary tract, including the urethra, bladder and kidneys.

Her doctor prescribed medication to manage the condition and 38 weeks later, she delivered Jeremy through a C-section at Kenyatta National Hospital.

But her joy was short-lived as Jeremy was immediately put on medication after he was diagnosed with a kidney condition.

He received outpatient treatment for three months before complications led to his admission in hospital.

"He cried and vomited a lot and I rushed him to Kenyatta National Hospital," says Waigwa.

Doctors told her Jeremy had to undergo cystostomy, a procedure that involves making an opening under the umbilical cord to drain urine from the bladder. The procedure cost of Sh8,000.

Foot the bill

Waigwa, who earns Sh15, 000 a month, struggled to pay the bill and buy drugs but things took a turn for the worst. Jeremy developed severe chest problems, which doctors attributed to pneumonia. He was re-admitted to Kenyatta where he was put on oxygen. A week later, his condition improved and he was discharged but not for long.

When he was nine months old, Jeremy’s immune system weakened, forcing doctors to prescribe immune-boosting antibiotics.

Newborn babies

Waigwa recalls that unlike newborn babies whose neck bones start firming up at nine months, her son’s took one and a half-years. He developed rickets.

Last May, he was admitted to Avenue Nursing Home.

Failed kidney

Dr Dorcas Kinuthia found that his second kidney had also failed, causing him to suffer from acidosis, high blood pressure, and anaemia. His five-day stay in hospital cost Sh60, 000.

During another hospital visit Dr Bashir Admani, a kidney specialist at Agah Khan Hospital, Waigwa was told that her son needed a kidney transplant and the cheapest place is India at a cost of Sh1.3 million.

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