I need a kidney so I can join university

Friday September 16 2016

Thomas Otira, 21, has been suffering from

Thomas Otira, 21, has been suffering from kidney failure since 2014. He had qualified for admission at Maseno University main campus in 2014, but has not been able to because of his illness which has eaten into the family’s finances . PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU  

By MILLICENT MWOLOLO
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Thomas Otira should have been worried about his KCSE results in 2014 like any other boy his age. Instead, it was worry about his constant illness and the eventual diagnosis of double kidney failure that plagued him and caused him sleepless nights.

He was diagnosed with the disease in May 2014 and referred to the Kenyatta National Hospital

“I was immediately put on dialysis and admitted for 10 days,” he recalls, flipping through paperwork from the KNH renal unit that tells of his journey with this illness.

Ever since then, the fourth bourn child among 14 children of Mzee Charles Ojung’e has been putting up in a tiny shack in Nairobi’s Makongeni estate. The humble one-roomed has does not have a wall on one side.

WORKS AS A GUARD

The owner of the room, Victor Otieno, who too hails from Koyolo works as a night guard at the Parklands Sports Club in Nairobi, and has been kind enough to house him. It is from here that Thomas boards a vehicle to KNH twice every week for dialysis and treatment.

The two sessions of dialysis cost Sh3000 each, a total of Sh6000 every week; amounts that have thrown the family into poverty and despair. Mzee Otira explains that his son’s illness has eaten into the family’s property, and leaving the family clinging onto the generosity of well-wishers.

DEVELOPED HEART PROBLEM

 “I have sold all my cattle and farm land,” he says, his face shadowed by worry.

With both his kidneys affected, Thomas has developed a heart problem.

“I attend regular cardiology clinics at KNH and for this, I have been put on medication for life,” he says. He explains that he often goes without medication and the recommended special diet of white meat, fruits and vegetables because his family cannot afford it.

Thomas is scheduled to undergo a renal replacement therapy procedure at KNH. The procedure costs Sh550, 000, an amount that the family cannot afford to raise. His sister has volunteered to donate her kidney, and doctors are conducting further tests on her. Besides the cost of the transplant, the family needs an additional Sh200, 000 to cater for post-transplant complications and Sh100, 000 to rehabilitate the donor.

Charles Otira Ojunge (left), a peasant farmer

Charles Otira Ojunge (left), a peasant farmer from Homabay County with his son Thomas Otira, 21, who has been suffering from double kidney failure since 2014. Charles had been qualified for admission at Maseno University main campus in 2014, but has not been able to because of his illness which has eaten into the family’s finances. PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU

This far, Mzee Otira says, he has been able to meet the cost of his son’s treatment through well-wishers. “My relatives, neighbours, friends and the church in the village; have been very supportive. But with time, they have gotten worn-out to give.”

CAN’T JOIN CAMPUS

Even more, is the fact that Thomas, who had been called for admission to a Bachelor of Business Administration in IT degree course at Maseno University main campus after scoring a B+ in 2013 KCSE examinations has deferred his admission for the last three years. The deferral deadline lapses this September, and Maseno University has advised Mzee Otira that he only has till the end of this month to ensure that his son joins school.

This, Mzee Otira says, is giving his family sleepless nights.

“We just do not know how to send the boy to university, because of the lack of finances to meet the school fees, and his medical care. This is even though we know that the future of our family depends on his education,” he explains. To prepare Thomas to join university would take Sh150, 000 given that he has to use the hostels as his movement is minimal since he uses a catheter.

At the corner of the tiny room is a collection of story books and ageing newspapers that Thomas reads as he whiles away time.

“Reading provides an outlet to escape my worries,” says Thomas. He explains that he still keeps in touch with some of his former classmates who are now in their third year at university.

Thomas is appealing for an inter-university transfer from Maseno University main campus in Kisumu to the University of Nairobi main campus. In a letter written and signed by Dr A. J. O Were, a consultant physician and kidney specialist at the Kenyatta National Hospital, studying in Nairobi would give Thomas the opportunity to access dialysis and expert medical attention.

MOST POWERFUL TOOL

“Education is the most powerful tool to fight poverty, and Thomas the only ray of hope to my family. Only if, he gets well and gains university education,” Mzee Otira says. Thomas is now appealing to well-wishers to come to his aid. “Assist me to get a kidney and acquire education. That way, I will do my best to give back to society and help those with similar problems,” he says.

At the moment, Dr Erick Komolo, a family friend, is assisting them to get an inter-university transfer... As Thomas seeks help, Dr Komolo has recognised the need for him to seek the services of a counselling psychologist. “I had visited him with some friends last Saturday, and from talking to him, I realised that he is much stressed. He feels left behind now that his former classmates are set to graduate in a year’s time. He is also not so sure whether he will get well,” Dr Komolo shares. He adds that a well-wisher, who is equally a seasoned professional psychologist has offered to give Thomas psychological counselling for free, until he gets better both physically and psychologically.

 

How to get involved:

THOMAS OTIRA OJUNGE MEDICAL FUND

ACCOUNT NO. 01108531444400

CO-OPERATIVE BANK, KIMATHI STREET, NAIROBI

MPESA: 0729 233 122 – Mr Charles Otira (Father).

Generosity Account: https://igg.me/at/mQ6NBkzstek