Joy as patient recovers from rare TB strain

Elizabeth Wangeci celebrates her new life with MSF medical personnel at endTB party in MSF clinic at along Juja road Nairobi on this photo taken on (05/06/2016) after she was declared free from Drug resistant TB(XDR-TB) {PHOTO LUCAS NGASIKE}

Medics from Doctors Without Borders have made a breakthrough after successfully curing a patient suffering from drug resistant tuberculosis.

Elizabeth Wangeci, 34, had battled with Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB) for two years and her experience with this strain left her in a trail of agony.

“It started out as a mere cold and I thought it would soon clear but, after taking several cough syrups nothing changed. My health deteriorated until I was diagnosed with drug resistant TB,” she said.

She said the killer disease forced her to abandon her six year teaching career to concentrate on her treatments.

“I was put on medication for several months but nothing changed. My condition continued to get worse after the disease moved to the third and most critical level. But thank God I am now healed after doctors treated me with a new drug,” Wangeci said.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) doctors made the breakthrough last month after administering Bedaquiline, an experimental new drug, combined with other conventional TB drugs to Wangeci.

Wangeci, who lives in Nairobi’s Mathare North, said her four-year-old son also showed similar symptoms of XDR-TB which compelled the doctors to subject him to half dose treatment equivalent to her mother’s full dose.

“I was advised to bring my son for screening and he too turned positive. He was weak but after taking the medication for about seven months, he got better,” she said.

On her part, things were not going so well and for eight months, she was subjected to daily treatment with both injectable and pills after the first five months of treatment failed to yield fruits.

“The drugs gave me some serious side effects and made my skin complexion become very dark. I was tempted to stop them but doctors at the clinic, family and friends encouraged me to continue with the treatment.

I am now happy that this long journey of pain has come to an end. I am now free from TB,” she said.

MSF Clinical Officer Hussein Kerrow said the treatment takes a minimum of 24 months on daily dose treatment for a patient to recover fully.

Kerrow said Doctors Without Borders together with the Ministry of Health were able to make the drug, which cures XDR-TB, accessible. He said two more patients are on XDR –TB treatment at their clinic.

He said Bedaquiline drug, which has been tested and proven effective to cure XDR-TB, has some side effects and it takes a long time for one to heal completely.

“We are happy we have the treatment for this drug resistant TB. We appeal to the public to report any suspected TB cases to our MSF clinic along Juja road in Nairobi.”

“Wangeci is now free from XDR –TB after successfully completing her drugs and further tests have come back negative,” Kerrow said.