Monday July 14 2014

Girl seeks Shs133m for liver transplant

Maria Achola at International Hospital Kampala,

Maria Achola at International Hospital Kampala, where she is admitted as she waits to undergo a liver transplant in India. Photo by Domnic Bukenya 

By Rachel Kanyoro

Maria Achola is a seven–year-old girl in urgent need of financial assistance to undergo a liver transplant. Achola, who is currently admitted at International Hospital Kampala (IHK), was diagnosed with acute viral hepatitis A, two months ago.

Her parents say she has always been a healthy child, until May this year when she developed fever and her eyes turned yellow. Her urine also turned yellow and she complained of pain in her abdomen.
All these are symptoms of a liver infection. Her parents took her to IHK where tests were conducted and she was diagnosed with the virus that causes hepatitis A.

Dr Bonitah Musoke, a paediatrician at the hospital who has been treating Achola says acute viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, caused by infection with one of the five hepatitis viruses.

How hepatitis spreads
Hepatitis A is usually spread by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with faecal matter that carries the virus. The disease can be prevented through immunisation. Usually, children from the age of one and adults are eligible for the vaccination. Dr Musoke says in most people, the inflammation begins suddenly and lasts only a few weeks. However, in rare scenarios, it can be serious as is the case with Achola.

“The disease escalated and later turned critical to the point where her liver shutdown,” she says.
Dr Musoke says a liver transplant procedure can be carried out on Achola at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital Liver Transplant Centre, New Delhi, India, but will require about Shs133 million.
The last of six children, Achola’s parents Vincent Adoko, a farmer and Lilly Adoko a tailor are from Apac District, but they reside in Bweyogerere, a Kampala suburb.

Achola’s parents are appealing to the public to help fund their daughters operation. “Please help us save the life of our child,” says Achola’s father.

Dr Andrew Ssekitoleko, the director of medical services at IHK, says the country does not have specialists and the facility to carry out the procedure locally.
One of Achola’s sibling, is willing donate his liver, and doctors have confirmed that it is compatible to that of his sister.

The cost
The Shs133m will cover the cost for surgeries of both the donor and the recipient (including a 21-day stay for the recipient and a 10-day stay for the donor), a pre-transplant evaluation, a caretaker and costs for travel and meals.