The agony of a kidney failure in Kenya

Posted Friday, February 4 2011 at 16:11

Mr Stephen Githinji holds a reputation that he wishes he does not. Having suffered kidney failure 23 years ago, he is one of Kenya’s longest serving patients on dialysis.He still hopes to receive a kidney transplant one day. “What is the cost of life? There is no cost so expensive for me to remain alive,” he says.

His ordeal started in January 1988. After a series of tests, doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital told him that he had kidney failure and that he needed to get a kidney transplant.

Then, he was working at Barclay’s Bank as a clerical officer in Nairobi. Life was good for the 28-year-old young man then.

“When I was diagnosed, it took me by shock because I did not know what it entailed to be a kidney patient. I thought that this could be the beginning of the end for my young life,” says Mr Githinji, who has seen his body deteriorate over a period of years.

He explains that over time and with proper knowledge on the disease, he realized that he could fight the disease by getting a kidney transplant.

However, problems always come in pairs. In 1994, after undergoing dialysis for six years, the father of two teenage daughters was laid off work on medical grounds.

“My job had been sustaining me by paying for my dialysis at Nairobi Hospital. For three years, I used to pay Sh14,000 for two dialysis sessions per week. The other years at Kenyatta Hospital, I would pay Sh9,000 for the two dialysis,” he says.

Life has taken a downward spiral for Mr Githinji since losing his job. “It is a terrible life I am going through. I am now relying on well wishers for my medical fees. Over the years, it has accumulated to millions of shillings.”

Sadly, though, there are many other Kenyans in Mr Githinji’s situation. Though there are no figures on the situation in Kenya today, Dr Antony Were, a kidney specialist and the head of the renal unit at KNH, says there is a definite upsurge in numbers.

“We receive many patients with kidney failure in the hospital. These are only those who can afford to go through the tests and, subsequently, through dialysis,” says Dr Were. “However, there are many others who die in the periphery units and in provincial hospitals.”

According to Mrs Jean Banda the director of Kenya Kidney and Lupus Foundation (KKLF), there is need for increased awareness as a means to manage and even reduce the increasing cases.

Mrs Banda says the cost of treatment for kidney failure to a common man is prohibitive. Many have surrendered and died because they could not support the cost of medication.

It costs Sh60,000 per month to undergo dialysis at Kenyatta hospital. The same process costs Sh100,000 per month in private city hospitals.

A kidney transplant costs up to Sh500,000 at Kenyatta hospital while it costs not less than Sh1 million in private hospitals.

Even after a transplant, a patient has to take expensive anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. These cost between Sh30,000 and Sh60,000 per month, for as long as they live.

It is recommended that a patient undergoes dialysis three times a week. However, due to high costs, many opt to do it twice a week. Each session costs Sh4,500 at Kenyatta, or Sh9,500 in private hospitals.

Mr Githinji has spent over Sh12 million on dialysis and medication, which has seen him sell off all his property, including a house along Juja Road and plots in Ruai.

Mr Twahir Ahmed, a kidney specialist at Parklands Medical Centre, says high blood pressure, diabetes and urinary tract infections are the highest causes of kidney failure.

Mrs Banda says one of the biggest worries for kidney patients is getting a donor for the transplant. She says the country needs to have a policy allowing the harvest of body organs.
Kidney treatment is mostly available to Kenyans living in Nairobi. “At the moment the services are concentrated only here in Nairobi and at the Eldoret Teaching and Referral Hospital, so one has to come and camp here in Nairobi,” says Mrs Banda, herself a former kidney patient. “The government should decentralise the dialysis services to regional hospitals rather.” Of interest is that insurance companies do not provide cover to patients with kidney problems in the country.

Mrs Banda, who spent over six years on the expensive dialysis, argues that the insurance companies view kidney patients as high risk customers.

“I wish it was possible for the insurance companies to charge slightly higher than other covers.” “Many families have been left destitute by the disease because patients tend to consume a lot of the families’ resources. Some are forced to move to Nairobi to be close to medical facilities,” says Mrs Banda

Doctors conduct a kidney transplant at Kenyatta National Hospital. Such a procedure can cost up to Sh500,000 at the hospital. Photo/FILE

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48 Responses to "The agony of a kidney failure in Kenya"

  1. Administrator says:

    What is so hard about this????
    News – Source Daily Nation
    Sh600m can equip hospitals in 47 counties
    Posted Friday, February 4 2011 at 16:12

    It costs Sh13 million to install a kidney dialysis facility in a hospital, complete with a water purification system that costs Sh5 million, according to Dr Twahir Ahmed, a kidney specialist at Parklands Medical Centre.
    “There are suppliers who provide the equipment on hire purchase, where a health facility can pay Sh4 million per year for five years, or 2 million twice a year for five years to obtain the Haemo dialysis facility,” said Dr Ahmed.

    It, therefore, means that it would cost the government only slightly over Sh600 million to install dialysis equipment in all the 47 counties in the country.

    This would save the lives of hundreds of Kenyans who are seriously in need of the treatment, and even bring the costs down to an affordable level.

    Mr Ahmed said it was imperative for the government to invest in the dialysis equipment. Dialysis treatment for patients is free in Zimbabwe and kidney transplant cost there is heavily subsidised.

    “In South Africa and Egypt, the cost of dialysis and all the drugs accompanied with it comes to about Sh300 per month, compared to about Sh60,000 in Kenya,” says Mrs Jean Banda, the director of Kenya Kidney and Lupus Foundation (KKLF).

    “This has been made possible because the two governments subsidise the cost for their patients, and completely reduce it to almost the cost of registration only.”

  2. RHODA says:

    i would like to give one of mine to someone who needs it. the tests are expensive and i’m not sure if that person will match mine.

  3. james says:

    I have been looking for someone in need I know how it feels having a kidney failure. I want to put a smile to somebody else face . if you are there contact me .

    • Ibrahim gitau ndugire says:

      Ihave been having kidney failure since the year 2003,after along search for donor,igot1 in2010 although the donor came from out side my family members we went ahead and had a transplant,but after the transplant the new kidney worked for a week only and it stopped,I had to go back to dialysis which is the only option for me now to be alive.The doctor told me to wait for a period of one year,which is over now for me to be considered for another transplant,I am 42 and my live is in prime time and i have the will of living,i am looking for another donor,my blood group is o positive if you are the one you can contact the Nairobi kidney centre at upper hill medical centre.

  4. Joe Njue says:

    The cost of dialysis is very high in Kenya and I believe the only way to go is what other 3rd world countries have done. We need to lower the cost by using cost effective methods. Peritoneal dialysis is cheaper,saves time and overall superior in early stages of kidney failure. The only risks are infections but proper training and screening of patients minimizes the risk.

  5. NINA says:

    My husband has been on dialysis for a year now and looking forward to a transplant.He’s grown so weak and true dialysis is very expensive. He camps at Kenyatta for him to get a machine and sometimes leave since there is no free machine. Patients are at times told to check the following day since the machines are less and the in-patients for dialysis are many. This causes a backlog.The government should try and help sensitize about the disease,decentralise the facility to other counties and reduce the cost of dialysis.It’s serious like cancer and needs more attention.

    • Susie says:

      Hi Nina,
      I understand this difficult situation you and your husband are in. I hope you’ve managed to find a permanent solution to the same.
      I was facing the same problems as you, especially with the machines at kenyatta being unavailable and the long queues and having to buy the additional medicines before each dialysis session…but i found myself slightly more relieved both financially and health-wise after starting dialysis sessions at nairobi west hospital. they charge 6500 which is less then anywhere else I have enquired about and so far its been treating me well. Give them a try and see if this suits your husband better.
      Hoping that sharing my experience with you would help.
      Take care,
      God bless

    • katos says:

      i have some financial need of 400k will sell one of my kidneys to a needy person if test are right
      am blood group b+

    • victoria jane says:

      God bless you and I pray that he gets a kidney. My brother is going through the same,
      You have stood by him, a woman I know deserted the husband after his kidneys failed. She initially had milked him of all his finances when he was still healthy and working abroad, only to desert him when he needed him the most.

  6. I have 10 kidney dialysis machine on sale from u.s.a,model 2008H, power 117V/12A/60HZ make Fresenius. Anyone in need kindly contact me on 0786677911

  7. Noni says:

    Hi. I am interested in buying two machines. How much r they n where
    R they – in Nairobi?

  8. Noni says:

    Hi. I am interested in buying two machines. How much r they n where r they – in Nairobi?

  9. Gordon says:

    After reading all those posts today I feel sorry for the kidney failure patients. The costs are high from what I have seen and I was wondering if transplant can help. If it can, I am willing and ready to donate one of my kidneys just to see someone smile again. My blood group type is A+(rh), am very healthy and is a non-drugs-user, not even alcohol. Wish you all the best

  10. Mfalamagoha Johari says:

    Am searching for place to study a Dialysis course

  11. abel says:

    iam here to donate my A+ healthy kidney iam living in uganda anyone interested get me on abellabye@gmail.com

  12. Elijah says:

    am looking forward to see one who needs my kidney ill give one to save the person life just contact me 0700912112 i dont drink nor even to smoke ma health is fine

  13. victoria jane says:

    It’s very tough either affected or infected. I do have a brother who needs a transplant and he hates the mention of dialysis and skips sessions because of how he gets treated at KNH. How I pray for a kidney. He is emotionally and physically drained. God help.

  14. Ken says:

    I am willing to help out by giving one kidney..My research show that one kidney can take up the functions of both and a person can live healthy after surgery….drop me a message at kaydee@rescueteam.com

  15. florence says:

    Hey victoria
    Has your brother had the treatment yet??if he has i hope he is fairing well,give him our best

  16. winnie kerasi says:

    I need help on how much it costs to do a transplant in India..and in kenya do I have to start dialysis or one can directly do a transplant. Please help with any information you have .
    I am winnie in Nairobi reach me through 0705627598. Thanks

  17. Hello…….am a willing donor…. O+ blood group, and i want to save someone out their…..

  18. Alex says:

    Am doin research on renal patients attitudes towards nursing care during haemodialysis at KNH,renal unit

  19. Davis says:

    hi, am willing to donate a kidney to someone in need. My blood group is O+. Is the process life threatening to a donor? drop me an email asap.

  20. Shem says:

    Hi i need a donor O+ for my mum

    • ngauk says:

      Eunice commented below and she is willing to donate please try and get in touch with her. Her email is [ariandarobert@yahoo.com].Thank you.

  21. Male donor says:

    i would like to help by offering one kidney. 0727102481

    • Administrator says:

      Please note it is illegal to receive money to give anyone a body organ. I suggest you go to KNH and register with the Renal department there


  23. hello everyone,am willing to give a fruit of life to however will match me by donating one of my kidney..am blood group O[positive],am healthy with no any disease,i dont smoke…you can reach me through Email-[ariandarobert@yahoo.com].Thank you.

  24. Am 21yrs old,am in Nairobi Kenya.

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