Looking jovial, 26-year-old Emma walks into the office wearing a broad smile. However, behind the joy and smile are recurring stomach pains that give her sleepless nights. Emma was diagnosed with symptomatic cholelithiasis - a gall bladder disorder that requires laparoscopic cholecystectomy analgesia surgery. If left untreated, cholelithiasis can lead to serious complications such as tissue damage, tears in the gallbladder, and infection that could spread spreads to other parts of her body.
In Mid-April 2020, Emma started experiencing recurring pains burning in nature. She tried managing the pains using over the counter pain killers but the pain kept recurring. About a week later she was forced to visit a health centre in her home town Kayole for medical checkup. Emma was treated for suspected ulcers at the facility and was discharged with anti-acids. The pains seemed under control for over a month but they recurred in July. She went back to the same facility where a scan, x-ray, and further tests were recommended. Results indicated that she had cholelithiasis and she required urgent surgery. Doctors from the facility recommended she go to Kijabe Hospital for treatment.
Emma is a single mother of one. She shared that she is raising her 6-month-old baby on her own after the father of the child left them and declined responsibility. She works as a shop attendant about 10km from her home and earns a total of $100 monthly income as her salary. To enable her to fend for the family, she has a house helper who takes care of her little child while she out looking for their daily bread. She pays the house help $35 a month. The three live in a single room rental which costs $50 a month. The remaining less than $20 is not enough to buy food and basic needs and still cover the cost of surgery.
Emma is the oldest in a family of three. Her siblings are unemployed and live with their mother in the village. They depend on produce from their ¼ acre farm for survival. Emma’s employer and few close relatives contributed a small amount for the surgery but she still needs $616 in financial support to fund the treatment.
Emma shared, “I need this surgery to get better and take care of my small family. I am the father and the mother to my little kid and my siblings depend on me. The small salary I get I barely make enough for our family and we basically live from hand to mouth. I have to spend all the income I make.”