My son’s battle with kidney failure

Miriam and son
Miriam Wambui, 58, is at a loss. Her son needs two kidneys to lead a normal life and while she can’t imagine where to start, she isn’t about to lose hope. By Kuria Wanjiru

My son Norman is always exhausted. Sometimes he experiences laboured breath, without even engaging in a strenuous activity. He is 19 and his life has become extremely tough since he was diagnosed with kidney failure in December 2017.

I adopted him nine years ago. I wanted someone to keep me company and take care of me when I’m old but fate seems to have a different idea. I had to hire someone to take care of him because of my handicap, the joy of having my own child was overwhelming.

His condition started in July 2016. Worried, I decided to take him to hospital for a medical check-up The attending checked his blood pressure and it was too high. He administered the test again, the results were the same!

This was unusual for a young person. The doctor decided to admit Norman. For three days, they conducted tests to find out what the cause was in vain. I was so worried for my son especially when the pressure started spiking!

He was put on medication to control the pressure and discharged. When he went back to school, I requested the nurse to regularly administer blood pressure tests and record the results.

Blinding migraines

For a year, the medical professionals we visited didn’t know what was affecting him. However, in September 2017, Norman started experiencing severe headaches. We went for more tests to try and determine the cause.

This time, the doctors discovered high amounts of waste and excess fluid in his blood. He was given more medication that would last him until the end of KCSE exams. After he finished writing his exam, I went to pick him up in school. That night, he vomited. We went to hospital where they discovered that his BP had gone through the roof. His blood sugar was also low.

I switched hospitals and Norman was diagnosed with kidney failure. Unfortunately, both his kidneys had failed!

This time, I had to pay Sh56,000 because my NHIF cover was not extended to this particular hospital. Norman had to now start undergoing dialysis thrice a week. Since then, I have been paying Sh9,500 for the dialysis session. Fortunately, my NHIF cover pays for the other two.

The specialists explained to me that Norman’s kidneys failed because of high blood pressure. The only option right now is a transplant for both kidneys. The specialists said that we have to find a donor, soon.

The diagnosis was a double blow for me. Apart from the financial struggles incurred from his treatments, I also have to contend with a physical disability: I was afflicted by polio at the age of two.

I feel like his youth has been robbed by the ailment. He used to be an active swimmer and basketball player. But now he cannot do any demanding physically activity.

He now needs people with A+ (positive) blood group, aged 20 to 60 to donate a kidney so he can have a transplant.

He misses a lot of classes because of doctors’ appointments. He’s studying cosmetology at the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS).

He has so far undergone four surgeries. He also has to have a special diet but we are staying positive that good things will happen.

When I’m not around, there’s a lady who looks after him for free. I am grateful for that. I am also hopeful that I will get some donors too.

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kidney failurekidney transplantchild adoption