Doctor seeks Shs100m for life-saving kidney transplant

Dr Anthony Buhangamaiso

What you need to know:

  • Ms Martha Namugabo, the wife of Dr Buhangamaiso, who is donating her kidney to save her husband, told this newspaper on Tuesday that they have collected around a third of the required Shs150 million.

The family of Dr Anthony Buhangamaiso, who is battling kidney failure, is seeking Shs98 million for a life-saving kidney transplant scheduled for  September 15.

Ms Martha Namugabo, the wife of Dr Buhangamaiso, who is donating her kidney to save her husband, told this newspaper on Tuesday that they have collected around a third of the required Shs150 million.

“The transplant will take place at Mediheal Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. We still need Shs98 million. We have collected slightly more than Shs51 million. He is not well. He has been weak these days,” she said.

Ms Namugabo added: “He is at home but we have regular visits to the hospital (Kampala-based St Francis Hospital Nsambya). Tomorrow [today] ,we are going to Kiruddu hospital for dialysis. He has no appetite, his body is wasted, he is sleepy, and he is always worried about the machine (dialysis). Please stand with us.”

Dr Buhangamaiso,37,  lives with his wife and children in Hoima, some 200 kilometres from Kampala. Ms Namugabo said Dr Buhangamaiso became sick a year after completing his Master’s degree in Surgery, and he had not yet got a job. Information from the family also indicates that he has been diabetic for 20 years, a condition that doctors say increases the risk of kidney disease and kidney failure.

“In September last year, when he started experiencing this, he had itching and body swelling. The itching was so much that he couldn’t sleep. He was not responding to any drug,” she said.

Ms Namugabo added: “Afterwards, there was body swelling and then breathlessness. At this point, we went to see a doctor. A diagnosis was made... after a few months, the doctor gave us hope that there could be a transplant. I decided to become the donor.”

In January, the doctor who was managing Dr Buhangamaiso, asked him to start dialysis as they prepare for a transplant, but the patient and his family said they were hesitant. “We knew it would encroach on all our savings. We first rejected the plan to go for dialysis but when his condition deteriorated, we started to go for dialysis. We went to Kiruddu hospital, where we have been doing each session at Shs60,000 compared to our preferred hospital, St Francis Hospital Nsambya, which required Shs350,000 per session,” Ms Namugabo said.

Dr Mark Kunihira, a brother of Dr Buhangamaiso, said when they had just started dialysis, his brother was very hopeless. He said a lot has since changed as people came in to support the family.

“In March, he (Dr Buhangamaiso) told me it is very hard to fight a losing battle. That time, we were at St Francis Hospital Nsambya when he was just starting dialysis. He had no hope. Everything didn’t make sense,” he said.

Dr Kunihira added: “We are very thankful to God and everyone who supported us. For the past six months, people kept coming to us and this revived our hope and also his wife has offered to donate her kidney to him.”

Both Dr Kunihira and Ms Namugabo said caring for Dr Buhangamaiso has been one of the most challenging times for them as a family.

Ms Namugabo said apart from the distress that comes with seeing her husband in endless pain, she feels bad for their children.

“We cannot sleep. I don’t remember the time I last had a good night’s sleep. It is very hard for me as a wife and mother. I am no longer spending time with my children,” she said.

Ms Namugabo added: “On the dialysis machine, it is pain. When he leaves the session, it is diarrhoea, vomiting and pain all the time. Our next step is to move to the transplant centre as quickly as possible so as to give my husband  a chance to have a normal life.”

The family can be contacted through 0788718494 and 0783264808. Financial support can be given through MTN MOMO code 633665 (Buhangamaiso Anthony) or Equity Bank account number 1026100867687 (Anthony Buhangamaiso).

Meanwhile, Dr Herbert Luswata, the secretary general of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), has lauded well-wishers for contributing towards Dr Buhangamaiso’s treatment.  He has , however,  urged the government to fast track the establishment of a national health insurance scheme. 

“It becomes very hard when a person who is providing care finds himself in such a situation whereby he cannot afford the care they provide to other people. When we met the President, one of the demands we had was to have health insurance for health workers,” he said.