Meet Mary Wanjiku; Woman with 4 kidneys, and all have failed


Meet Mary Wanjiku; Woman with 4 kidneys, and all have failed
Mary Wanjiku has 4 kidneys inside her body and, as fate would have it, all the four are not working properly.

In Summary

  • As the government seeks to achieve Universal Health Coverage in its Big Four Agenda items, there is a section of Kenyans who simply cannot wait for that to get here fast enough.
  • Mary Wanjiku is one such person; she has 4 kidneys inside her body and, as fate would have it, all the four are not working properly.
  • This has forced Wanjiku, who was diagnosed with kidney failure ten years ago, to survive on regular dialysis.

By Mashirima Kapombe

As the government seeks to achieve Universal Health Coverage in its Big Four Agenda items, there is a section of Kenyans who simply cannot wait for that to get here fast enough.

Mary Wanjiku is one such person; she has four kidneys inside her body and, as fate would have it, all the four are not working properly.

This has forced Wanjiku, who was diagnosed with kidney failure 10 years ago, to survive on regular dialysis.

In 2008, her mother’s sister donated for her first transplant. The kidney worked for three-and-a-half years then failed.

“The doctor told me my antibodies developed and rejected the kidney,” says Wanjiku.

Her mother donated her kidney for the second transplant; a procedure which was done in India. Fast forward to five years later and Wanjiku requires yet another transplant as this one too has failed.

Dr. John Ngige, a kidney specialist, attributes the failure to lack of consistent follow-up after a transplant.

“Due to lack of funds, most patients may miss to take their medicine for one or two days. When this happens, the kidney gets rejected,” says Dr. Ngige.

The Kenyatta National Hospital has carried out 190 transplants in the past five years which they claim have all been successful. Subsequent transplants have, however, proved a challenge.

“There is technology that is supposed to be used when undergoing the second or third transplant because one’s body will have developed antibodies,” adds Dr. Ngige.

The specialist conducting the procedure must have the appropriate equipment and technology required to first remove these antibodies… and it’s not cheap.”

Mary’s brother will donate his kidney this time. Meanwhile, she has to watch the quantity of fluids she takes not to surpass half- a-litre every two days.

Her dialysis sessions continue and she spends Ksh.50,000 every month on the treatment and equipment required;  a burden her family carries as she cannot work.

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