Doctor narrates how hypertension killed boxing manager Ssekiwu

Fallen boxing promoter George Ssekiwu died Wednesday. PHOTO/COURTESY

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Dr Eva Nabankema, a physician at Nsambya Hospital and a family friend, narrated Ssekiwu’s battles with hypertension.

George Ssekiwu, the fallen Baltic Pro Box Promotions operations manager, had shown great signs of recovery from a stroke he suffered nearly three months ago, until he died Wednesday morning.

In early June, Baltic Promotions chairman Eddie Bazira told Daily Monitor that his friend had collapsed and been rushed to Mulago National Referral Hospital, where urgent diagnosis showed he had suffered brain haemorrhage or brain bleeding.

Ssekiwu, aka George Grey, was 46.

Dr Eva Nabankema, a physician at Nsambya Hospital and a family friend, narrated Ssekiwu’s battles with hypertension.

“George had struggled with blood pressure for some time but it became more serious between 2017 and 2018 ranging between 150 and 250,” Nabankema told mourners at Ssekiwu’s burial in Walusubi, Mukono Thursday.

[Normal blood pressure ranges between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg].

“One day he called me, asking for a check-up because he was feeling some headache, when I checked him it was 250. I told him ‘you can’t go back home.’ I put him on emergency treatment until it lowered [to normal]. And he kept on medication.”

Colleagues added he also worked out regularly in a boxing gym.

First stroke

In 2019, Nabankema said, Ssekiwu suffered a stroke though he didn’t get paralysed. “But it bled into his eye. With treatment, he got better and regained his sight though the eye stayed bloodied.”

But in early June, Peter Kibazo, the renowned journalist, told Nabankema that his brother had been admitted to Mulago.

“I was worried… we are doctors but about someone you know it’s inevitable to get human,” Nabankema said.

“The diagnosis showed that George was in danger and three days later he was taken to the ICU where he spent 48 days."

Nabankema commended the deceased’s family for doing whatever they could to save his life.

“While in the ICU George suffered one of the most dangerous bacterial infections. It’s very resistant to drugs and he needed three doses a day, each at Shs520,000, for 14 days. But the family never failed to buy a single dose.”

The physician elaborated to Daily Monitor that the Pseudomonas infection is caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas which can be contracted from eating contaminated food and from several moist areas like pools, kitchens, hot tubs, bathrooms, sinks, etc. But, Nabankema adds, it's most severe in hospitals, especially among people on breathing machines.  

“Thank you very much, without the family’s commitment medics cannot do much,” Nabankema said.

Kibazo returned the favour, thanking the medics at Mulago Hospital for “a super job despite the immense challenges.”

Nabankema, who was always in touch with his counterparts in Mulago, admitted that there was a time when Ssekiwu’s situation worsened that it didn’t even give false hope. “But God enabled him to get better and left the ICU and for the three weeks he spent in the main ward, he has been showing signs of encouragement. He could grip your hands, and attempt to speak, a big sign of recovery from the coma.”

Bazira, his business partner, had been checking on him twice every day. He said: “He had started turning and recognising faces. He often showed an urge to talk to me but he hadn’t regained his speech.”

Final moments

But on Monday, Ssekiwu’s doctor told Nabankema that the patient had weakened. “We exchanged troubleshooting ideas and we went through the night…then on Tuesday evening, after duty I called the doctor. He told me he was at the bedside but practically, George was in a shock, the pressure had lowered so much. Again, I gave him troubleshooting tips, which he used and the patient showed some recovery. But he stayed in critical condition, Nabankema said.

“But what followed George bled heavily, this time, in the intestines and he ran out of blood. It’s saddening, even to us medics, that after doing everything and overcoming harder battles like stroke and infections, George lost it at such a moment. We didn’t know what caused that last bleeding.”

The physician advised the mourners to prioritise medical checkup.

“You never know you might have blood pressure. And if you are on medication please adhere. Otherwise, the consequences are dire and overwhelming to medics.”

Right hand chopped

“I have lost my right hand man,” Bazira said at the funeral. The two were born and bred in Mulago, in suburban Kampala, but started working together in 2006, after Bazira returned from Sweden, where he had lived since 1994.

“George was a very dedicated manager and loved his job,” Bazira said, adding: “He went to Kololo High School but was never a boxer, like us, though his passion for the sport was unrivalled.”

The duo traversed the world looking for opportunities for boxers like former African champ Badru Lusambya, the late Isaac Zebra Ssenyange, among others.

“I’m going to miss George a lot. Now all those trips we had abroad are playing in my mind. He was a very strict and caring manager,” said former WBC-International light heavyweight champion Joseph ‘Joey Vegas’ Lubega.

“He badly wanted Baltic to get a gym and build a stable for our boxers, the way Mayweather Promotions, Top Rank, Golden Boys do it,” Bazira said.

Ssekiwu is survived by a wife and five children.


Age: 46

Lived in: Maganjo, Kawempe

Positions: operations manager, Baltic Promotions


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