- Grace Muthoni said she was diagnosed in 2016 and that doctors told her that she had stage five kidney failure and could not be reversed.
- But she is required to take drugs daily basis which costs her about Sh40,000 monthly, an amount she said strains her financially.
Renal patients have appealed to the national government to consider subsiding treatment that they said is too expensive for most Kenyans.
As the world celebrated global Kidney Day, patients said the disease, like many chronic diseases, impoverishes families as they seek treatment.
Grace Muthoni said she was diagnosed in 2016 and that doctors told her that she had stage five kidney failure and could not be reversed.
“I lost hope, went through denial and underwent dialysis for two years. As I did, doctors counselled and told me a transplant would allow me to live a normal life,” she said.
Her brother donated a kidney and a transplant was done, and since then, Muthoni said her life transformed as she now supports herself.
But she is required to take drugs daily basis which costs her about Sh40,000 monthly, an amount she said strains her financially.
She wondered why the drugs that she will be required to take for the rest of her life cannot be factored by NHIF to make them more accessible.
“NHIF would pay Sh80,000 for my dialysis sessions every month yet the drugs cost only half the amount. Why can’t it be paid for by NHIF?” she wondered.
She however underscored the need for family members to support patients to help them recover faster.
“It has not been an easy journey. I realized most patients don’t die from the disease but from the things they face from their families and society,” she said.
Another survivor, Karatu, said he underwent dialysis for four years before his brother donated a kidney and a transplant was done.
“But now I struggle to raise the Sh40,000 needed for drugs. The government should intervene and subsidise these drugs because we can’t live without them,” he said.
Kinuthia Ndung’u, the renal unit team leader at Murang’a Level 5 Hospital, urged Kenyans to take annual tests for early diagnosis of renal disease.
He said most renal patients initially suffer from hypertension or diabetes which he said calls for frequent blood pressure, urine and Body Mass Index tests to detect the chronic diseases.
He also underscored the need for Kenyans to ensure they take at least two litres of water sipped throughout the day and eat a balanced diet while ensuring they remain physically active.
One of the main symptoms of kidney disease is a decrease in the frequency of passing urine that Ndung’u said also darkens in colour, acquires a strong stench and sometimes has blood in it.
When the disease deteriorates, the body starts swelling on the face, tummy and legs, with some people reporting persistent low blood levels that do not improve with medication and cause one’s eyes to grow white.
Ndung’u said the skin sometimes gets flaky, a condition known as uremic frost, and has poor mental focus.
“By the time such symptoms start exhibiting, a patient is nearing the end stage and can only be given renal replacement therapy that includes dialysis,” he said, noting that if detected early, the disease can be reversed.
According to World Health Organisation, one in 10 suffers from renal disease with over four million Kenyans diagnosed.
But Ndung’u said most patients are diagnosed when the disease has progressed, heightening the need for dialysis services.
Murang’a Level 5 Hospital has 20 dialysis machines and has conducted over 23,000 sessions since the unit that treats 20 people each day was opened in 2015.