Help journalist Odipo walk, talk again

Dominic has been bedridden for eight years now.

In Summary
  • He suffered a stroke in 2013.
  • This last episode took away from him his ability to speak.

Journalist Dominic Odipo needs your help, if he has to stand up and walk again!

He suffered a stroke in 2013.

Then, just as his family, doctors and caregivers thought he had weathered the storm and taken a turn for the better, he was taken down by another attack in April 2019.

This last episode took away from him his ability to speak—a disorder his doctors and caregivers have linked to this more recent attack.

Combined, Dominic has been bedridden for eight years now. First, he was unable to move. But now, he can’t move and he can’t speak.

His brother, Francis Odipo, who has remained a pillar in the journalist’s life as he battles the ravaging disease, says communication has been reduced to using signs, something he says they’re all unfamiliar with but are quickly adapting to, and “a little bit of” writing.

It’s been totally emotionally draining for the family. But even that may be an understatement. “Never say to someone, ‘I know how you feel’ unless you’ve worn the shoes they’re in,” a psychology professor once admonished us during a lecture.

The cost of treatment has been something akin to a run on a bank. Unable to foot the bill the family opted for home-based care, with support from specialised caregivers. But, cost still being a factor, the visits of these caregivers have been few and far between.

It’s been an uphill task.

Various groups have been working to try and raise the Sh2 million his treatment requires locally. They still fall far short.

A journalist with a good grasp of local and international affairs, Dominic and I briefly shared the newsroom at then Lonrho-owned Standard newspapers on Likoni Road in the early 90s. He was the business editor and also ran a weekly column—an acerbic but objective critique that dissected a wide range of issues.

I was a reporter only recently employed and trying to find my footing at what was previously a broadsheet, whose board of directors flew in for meetings in Nairobi from London.

The Iron Curtain had tumbled down and a new wave of democratisation was sweeping across the globe. Multipartyism had returned to Kenya. It was an exciting moment to be a journalist. And, Dominic was in the thick of it all.

Dominic belongs with a generation of journalists and editors, whose writing skills, insights and world view were polished under the tutelage of the legendary Hillary Ng’weno, founder and publisher of the renowned publication, the Weekly Review, and veteran journalist Philip Ochieng’, author of I Accuse The Press and The Kenyatta Succession, co-authored with compatriot Joseph Karimi.

Mercifully, there is evidence that post-stroke rehabilitation can help people overcome disabilities. But it can be an expensive undertaking and, depending on the severity of the attack, take quite a while to resolve.

I can’t possibly hold a candle to him even after many years of my own, plying this trade and stacking up invaluable experience.

In Dominic’s heyday journalists weren’t idolised. There were no “media celebrities” or “media personalities”. Journalists were in fact enemies of the State. News hadn’t become a commodity to be packaged for sale.

Some much water has passed under the bridge.

Dominic left Likoni Road a humble journalist, who continued to earn an honest living lecturing and running a consultancy—until he suffered stroke.

The disease has deprived him of the ability to fend for himself. Through your little contribution you can help him restore his life, dignity and humanity.

Yet Dominic isn’t alone in his plight. There are hundreds of other Kenyans whose story can’t see the light of day but are equally needy patients fighting to recover and live again.

A stroke is a health emergency. There are a variety arising from different causes but the most common one is called Ischemic, according to doctors. It’s caused by a blood clot in the brain. Denied the necessary supply of air the cells in the brain quickly begin to die triggering a stroke.

Mercifully, there is evidence that post-stroke rehabilitation can help people overcome disabilities. But it can be an expensive undertaking and, depending on the severity of the attack, take quite a while to resolve.

A study published in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa in 2018 ranked cardiovascular diseases as the second leading cause of morbidity and mortality in Kenya.

However, the study found out that there is limited data on stroke to inform decision-making.

Carried out to establish stroke distribution patterns and characteristics in patients seeking care at Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and referral Hospital the study’s goal was to help establish the first national stroke registry.

It’s unclear if this registry has been set up. Ministry of Health officials sought for comment declined.

Other studies buttress the findings of the Kenyan study. They cite stroke as a challenging public health issue in Africa but lament the unavailability of data, which they say has limited research output and consequently the response to the stroke burden.

Like the Kenyan one, these studies also sought to estimate the incidence and prevalence of stroke in order to improve policy response and management of the disease in Africa.

To assist send your contribution to: Medical Fund for Dominic Martin Odipo M-Pesa Paybill 7202707

Account: 127-208-0730

You can also contact Dominic Odipo’s family through his brother, Francis Odipo 0722212534

Nairobi-based journalist