Ben falls off the veranda

Wilsons_2013 Posted by Rory Wilson on Thu, 05 Nov 2009 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Life can be tough sometimes.

The scourge of HIV across much of the world – particularly sub-Saharan Africa is truly dreadful. The statistics are dismal – nearly 2 million people infected with HIV in Uganda alone. However the personal stories of pain and loss are more touching than numbers. We have 130 children attend our HIV clinic weekly. All received the infection from their mothers. Most of them have since become orphans. They are all beautiful fun loving children.

However there are many other sad stories and life destroying diseases.

Ben is 11 years old. He was diagnosed with Diabetes a year ago at a clinic far from Kiwoko. After a month of insulin therapy his mother was unable to purchase any more so he did without. From January this year until his admission to Kiwoko 10 days ago he received no treatment for his diabetes.

He weighs half what he should, and is blind due to severe cataracts in both eyes caused by his consistently high blood sugars. I don’t know how his body has managed to survive for so long.

He is now on the correct treatment and is eating voraciously (often left-overs from our last meal, as his father died many years ago and his mother is very poor.) We are stabilising his insulin regimen and hope to be able to discharge him next week. It is obvious that he will be unable to pay more than a tiny fraction of his bill. Following discharge we will try and provide free insulin – but as he lives far from the hospital, even the £6 taxi fare to come and collect his insulin every month is probably beyond their reach. The local government health unit is unlikely to receive any insulin supplies at all in the next year, so if he doesn’t come to us he will not receive his therapy.

With his cataracts being so bad he is unable to read, and thus go to school. He is even unable to dig in the garden. In the gathering gloom last night he then fell off the veranda outside male ward. Despite the drop only being a few feet, he fractured his lower leg!

Sometimes the sadness gets too much.

If Ben was suffering from HIV I would be able to give him free treatment donated by western governments. I don’t want to suggest that such treatment for HIV is not good, but where is there any justice that this boy’s more immediately life threatening and disabling chronic disease attracts no such external support? Is it simply because the HIV lobby in America and Europe has enjoyed the membership of famous popular figures but no-body particularly famous suffers from Diabetes?
If he was in Europe he would be suffering from a bothersome condition, but if he managed it well, he could expect a good life and a career. I reflect upon a young man I know living in the UK who was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. He is now a junior doctor, married and with the prospect of a full life before him. My Ben here in Uganda has no such prospects.

I don’t really know if this has a conclusion.
Life is a bit bad sometimes.
But I suppose if we weren’t here in Kiwoko, and people didn’t give me money to be able to help folk life Ben he would be dead. That would be worse still.


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