My brother's illness drove me into depression

By - May 31st 2023

ZABLON ORINA founded Kidney Focus Kenya, an organization that advocates for the prevention of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In an interview with JAEL MUSUMBA, Orina shares his journey and the inspiration behind his first book, “Fix The Cause.”

Aside from being a champion of chronic illness, you are also an author. Kindly share with us your journey into these endeavors.

The reason I set out to change the lives of others by helping them avoid the burden of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes is deeply personal. I lost my brother to kidney failure caused by high blood pressure.

When my brother was diagnosed with hypertension, it was a devastating blow for our family. Soon after, he was also diagnosed with kidney failure, and I stepped in to try and save his life by paying for his dialysis sessions. However, the financial and emotional strain quickly became overwhelming. Despite struggling for one and a half years to cover the costs, my brother tragically passed away, leaving me in debt.

The expensive nature of dialysis forced me to borrow money from friends, relatives, and shylocks. The exorbitant interest rates plunged me into unimaginable levels of debt. The situation became so dire that even affording the basic tests required to find a suitable organ donor for a transplant seemed impossible.

During this period, providing food for my family became a daily struggle. My brother’s illness completely changed my life, and I spiraled into depression and disorganization. To try and save the situation, we had to sell our ancestral land. One afternoon while returning from a dialysis session, my brother collapsed and passed away.

This low point in my life triggered a season of reflection and research as I searched for a solution to the heavy burden of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Since then, my efforts have been focused on ensuring that no one else experiences the same hardships I went through. 

What steps did you take to address these issues?

I initiated a door-to-door campaign to check people’s blood pressure and educate them about hypertension while conducting extensive research to find a lasting solution to this burden. Through this campaign, I realized there was a significant knowledge gap concerning hypertension and type 2 diabetes. To bridge the knowledge gap, I wrote the book “Fix The Cause: Life Without Hypertension and Diabetes.” The book utilizes imagery and accessible language to inspire readers to take action in reducing the burden of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

 What message would you like readers to take away from your book and your advocacy work?

I want people to realize that they have the power to make positive changes in their lives and reduce the burden of these conditions. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and seeking timely medical advice, it is possible to improve their heart and kidney health.

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