Family’s appeal for help to aid an ailing son

The family of a boy who has been in a vegetative state for 11 years after a medical misdiagnosis rendered him incapacitated is appealing for well-wishers to assist in funding his physiotherapy sessions to help him walk again.

Emmanuel Mwirigi, 12, was misdiagnosed with pneumonia at Moi District Hospital in 2006 where he was taken after developing acute fever. His parents say the medics prescribed a cocktail of drugs that didn’t work.

After a week in hospital, he was discharged only to be rushed back after the fever hit again with a vengeance.

Benjamin Kioko, the father, said the son’s condition would progressively worsen with doctors trying out different drugs on him but in vain.

They thought it was pneumonia but afterwards said it was flu. By the time he was collapsing, he had taken almost all drugs, he said.The son was only 10-months at the time.

Having failed to revive the baby who was now in comatose, the medics referred the baby to Coast General Hospital where doctors diagnosed him with cerebral malaria. Further tests revealed water lodged in his brain.

By this time, the full effect of the misdiagnosis was starting to emerge. The once healthy bubbly baby was no more. Doctors concluded he had suffered irreversible brain damage that affected his spine paralysing all his psychomotor capabilities.

Lying in his mother’s arms at their home in Sofia, Mwirigi, looks like a three-year old. His legs and arms are severely atrophied due to prolonged periods of inactivity. His hands and legs are curled with the mother being forced to attend to all his needs.

Speaking to KNA on Tuesday, Cecilia Gacheri, the mother, said her son had become permanently bedridden and wasn’t conscious of his surroundings. Even when awake, the boy cannot fend for himself and had to be on diapers at all times.

He cannot walk, eat, talk, hear or laugh. I have to be here with him full time because of his condition, she said.

Efforts to hire a psychotherapist came a cropper after the family run out of funds. The child required two sessions per week each going for five hundred shillings per session.

Ms. Gacheri said tending her sick son has been a unique experience that almost led her to wishing for death. The mother of three noted that neighbours could not understand how a seemingly healthy baby could suddenly become infirmed.

She had to endure extreme social stigma associated with disability with some of her friends hinting that such disability was a curse from displeased parents.

I went to ask my father if he had anything to do with my son’s disability. He looked at me and cried. I have never felt so guilty, she admitted.

Ms. Gacheri claims that she had applied on several occasions to have her son registered under the government cash transfer programme for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) but has been unsuccessful.

She appealed for well-wishers to help her acquire orthopedic equipment for her son’s legs and arms that are becoming coiled with disuse.

If we can get funds for his legs’ support, it can help his bones to become straight, she said.

When contacted, National Council for Persons Living with Disability official in Voi, Cyril Maghanga said efforts were underway to absorb more deserving people into the programme.

He added that the county was only able to add 100 more beneficiaries in the programme across the county.

Each sub-county received only an allocation of 25 people. We hope the number will go up for government help to reach more people, he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency