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'I'm a living miracle': MCA's brush with death after blood clot scare

Turning Point

On June 18th of this year, Nominated MCA Joel Okwako was among the ward representatives from Kakamega County Assembly who attended a fundraiser at the Anglican Church of Kenya Maseno North Diocese headquarters in Kakamega town where President William Ruto was the chief guest.

During the fundraising event, Mr Okwako began to experience a sense of illness but initially attributed it to a common headache.

“I started feeling a severe headache along with difficulty in breathing,” Okwako recounted. He went on to say, “What frightened me the most was when I lost consciousness right after opening the door to enter the house.”

He explained that it took several minutes for him to regain consciousness. “When I finally came to my senses, I felt numbness on one side of my body. My left leg and hand couldn’t move,” he recalled.

The MCA described the sensation in his left leg and hand as a constant prickling feeling, accompanied by intense pain.

In response to his condition, he decided to contact a family friend who promptly arranged for an ambulance to rush him to a local hospital in Kisumu.

At the hospital, Mr Okwako was diagnosed with a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and was immediately started on medication.

A Transient Ischemic Attack, often referred to as a ‘mini stroke,’ is triggered by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to a part of the brain. While TIA symptoms arise suddenly, they are akin to those of a stroke but have a shorter duration.

After four days of management, he was discharged from the hospital after a 14-day stay.

“The most challenging incident occurred on the day of my discharge. I woke up to a throbbing sensation on one side of my head, ranging from sharp to dull. The pain seemed to alternate, and I also experienced a nosebleed and noticed blood in my stool at that moment,” Okwako shared.

His partner Stella acted swiftly, driving him back to the hospital, this time to a different facility in Kisumu. He was accompanied by his brother, Peter Okwako.

 Kakamega Deputy Governor Ayub Savula (left) and Lurambi MP Bishop Titus Khamala (right) when they visited nominated MCA Joel Okwako (centre) at Kenyatta National Hospital - Photo/Courtesy

Further tests, including MRI and CT scans, angiography, and blood tests, were conducted. It was during this period that he was diagnosed with Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (Clot of the Brain).

Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms within the brain’s venous sinuses. Symptoms encompass headaches, blurred vision, fainting, loss of control over a part of the body, and seizures.

He expressed his gratitude, saying, “It is by the grace of the Almighty God that I am alive today. This experience transformed me mentally even more than physically.”

Recalling a previous pulmonary embolism attack in 2020, he disclosed, “I lived in constant fear of death but looked to God and trusted His word in Proverbs 4:20.”

For more than 45 days, he has been receiving treatment with clot-busting drugs (thrombolytics) and is still awaiting discharge.

“As I compose this account I am in the process of recovery at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) after a 43-day hospital stay,” he shared. 

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