Balikurungi is a 59-year-old housewife and a mother of nine children. She works in the fields to produce food for her family.
Balikurungi presented with a tender mass in the right inguinal region that has occurred on and off since the year 2000. It started as a small swelling, but it has now increased in size. It pains her mostly on straining. Due to this pain, Balikurungi is unable to lift heavy items. Also, she is unable to work in the fields for a long time as she used to.
In February 2016, Balikurungi visited a health center where she was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia—a protrusion of the intestines through a weak spot in the abdominal wall—and was advised to go for surgery. As she did not have money for surgery, Balikurungi decided to go back home until recently, when she learned about the Watsi program at Virika hospital.
Balikurungi’s husband is a peasant with low and seasonal income, and none of her children are employed. She says she had nowhere to turn to for help, and that is why she has lived with the hernia for such a long time. “I am unable to pay for my surgery,” Balikurungi shares. “I am requesting your help.”
For $220, Balikurungi will undergo hernia repair, in which a surgeon pushes the protruding tissue back into the abdomen and sews together the weakened muscle with a synthetic mesh. Over time, muscle tissue grows into and around the mesh to strengthen the area. Funding for Balikurungi also covers the costs of a two-week hospital stay, pain medicine, antibiotics, and blood tests.
A hernia repair will lead to an improved quality of life for Balikurungi. She will no longer experience the pain or be at risk of intestinal strangulation, which can be life-threatening. She will be able to work in the fields and also take care of her family.
After surgery, Balikurungi hopes to produce more food and sell some for income.