Ever since he was a little boy, Abdulshakur Ahmed had eye problems When he was in Form One, his eyesight deteriorated to the extent that he could not read a book, see writings on the blackboard or the details on people’s faces. This forced him to drop out of school.
“This was painful for me because I had always imagined how I would complete my studies, make it in life and help my family back home. In 2010 I watched in pain as my peers prepared to complete their secondary education while I was out of school and working as a sales person in a shop,” says the 25-year-old.
He worked as a shop attendant in Limuru after dropping out of school.
Abdulshakur had always solved his eye problems using eye drops but even this stopped working at some point.
But a visit to Kikuyu Hospital revealed some devastating news to him: that he would need a cornea transplant.
“My eyesight was so bad at this time that the temporary solution was for me to get contact lenses but to my dismay, I developed eye ulcers. I really thought it was a hopeless situation because most Kenyans don’t know about organ donation and even those who do choose not to donate so where would my help come from?”
This news was confirmed when he moved back to Mombasa and visited Lions Medical Centre.
He neither knew what a cornea transplant would entail nor did he have any money to pay for an operation.
But a doctor from the hospital came to his rescue.
“I am glad Dr Vishwanatha Gokhale linked me up with an organisation which paid the fees needed and also brought me a cornea. After two to three months they called me for the operation and two weeks after the procedure I was ready to go back to school. I could see clearly. It was not like the way it used to be before,” he says.
The operation on the left eye was done in 2011 while the second one was done in the following year.
“In 2011 I enrolled in class as a Form One student in Mombasa. Despite being overwhelmed by the joy of my regained eyesight, I still had more challenges especially lack of financial support to continue with my education and for medication. I come from a humble background.
My father is a pastoralist who owns few goats and mother is a house wife,” he adds.
Never one to give up or to hesitate to ask for help when he needed it, Abdulshakur approached his doctors at Lions Medical Centre and through their assistance, he managed to finish his secondary school education.
“The doctors helped me with school fees but I felt embarrassed about going back to ask for pocket money. I remember one incident that happened when I was in Form Three. I was a day scholar and used to get between Sh 100 to Sh50 from my brother. Then one day he travelled without notifying me. I used the Sh50 but when I came back home he was not there. I never had a phone. The whole night I was just there waiting for him.”
He slept on an empty stomach.
The next day, he walked to school and spent the whole day hungry.
“My brother did not come back even the next day. I could not even concentrate in class because of the hunger pangs. I went to the teacher on duty and told her I had not had a meal since the previous day. I asked her to allow me to go out of school and look for food. She told me to wait in the staffroom and after few minutes she brought me a chapatti and the staff tea.”
Abdulshakur managed to score an impressive C plain in his KCSE and is currently a student at Kenya Medical Training College.
“Despite the challenges I thank God I went through I have learnt many lessons including the impact of giving. I would love people to donate not only their eyes but also other organs. I am living proof that organ donation works.”