Source : The East African
Posted Sunday, October 30 2011 at 11:53
Five years ago, video producer Peter Mikia, 46, was diagnosed with kidney failure.
He’d seen a doctor after experiencing fatigue, loss of breath, excessive sweating, panting and swollen feet on a regular basis
.“The doctor put me on dialysis — removal of toxins and extra water from the blood — pending a transplant as my family sought a donor,” said Mikia.
The dialysis cost about $50 per session and had to be performed twice a week.
Given that the facilities at the Kenyatta National Hospital — the largest public referral facility in Kenya — are overstretched, seeking medication is strenuous.
But patients have little choice due to the prohibitive costs involved in treating kidney failure.
Family and friends helped Mikia raise the funds for both the dialysis and the transplant. He opted to have the operations done in India — where he’d been advised there were more medical personnel, better facilities and the difference in cost compared with a local hospital was negligible.
His sister donated her kidney — after a long search that involved several tests for compatibility.
The transplant cost $23,000, including a four-month stay in India for him, his sister and a cousin.
For four years, the kidney functioned well, with follow-up checks in India — twice in the first year and twice in the next three years — plus medication administered locally at a monthly cost of $220.
However, in December last year, during a check-up in India, Mikia collapsed and was admitted to the intensive care unit. It cost him $800 for four days. Investigations revealed he had vivax malaria — the most common form of malaria, caused by the protozoan Plasmodium vivax and marked by attacks every other day.
His kidney was failing, forcing him to return to dialysis to revive it.
“What was meant to be a 10-day check-up turned into a month. My family was forced to organise a goat eating party to raise funds,” he said.
The total bill was $3,500.
Mikia, however, delayed his next check-up due to financial constraints, but this cost him dearly. “I ran out of the main drug I was using, Mycrophinolic acid.
My nephrologist [kidney specialist] recommended a substitute drug — Mycrophinolic Sodium,” he said.
This did not work. Tests — done later in India — revealed his Kidney was damaged beyond revival, possibly by the the substitute drug.
“I returned to Kenya and had to search for another donor, as I underwent dialysis,” said Mikia.
“Once again, we planned another fund raiser while my wife donated her kidney.”
The family raised $250,000 that enabled Mikia and his wife to travel to India for the second transplant in June this year.
The couple flew back into the country in September. While the kidney has served Mikia well so far, the cost of drugs is prohibitive. He spends about $500 every month and must also return to India every three months for check-ups.
According to Doris Kinuthia, a nephrologist at the Aga Khan Hospital, patients with end-stage renal failure — the complete, or near complete failure of the kidneys — need a transplant which frees them from the need for dialysis.“A successful transplant has 10 times the function of dialysis,” says Dr Kinuthia.
During the operation, the new kidney is inserted into the lower abdomen and connected to an artery and vein (to the leg). The old kidneys are usually left in place.
Dr Kinuthias notes: “Often the new kidney will start producing urine as soon as blood starts flowing through it, but about one third of patients will require dialysis for about a week.”
Most patients leave hospital two weeks after the operation.
She notes that transplant patients must take their medication for life, or for as long as the new kidney continues to function to prevent rejection.