LINDA SOKO TEMBO writes
THE absence of medical expertise and lack of resources to send nine-months-old Wells Chishala for specialist treatment abroad, has forced the boys’ family, from Samfya District, in Luapula Province, to return to the village in desolation.
The boy was born with a rare condition of sealed eyes, known as Microphthalmia. The family has been told that the only hope for the boy to see was to go to India for treatment because the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) had no capacity to deal with the ailment.
Wells’ 17-year-old mother, Belani Mambwa and grandmother, today boarded a Samfya-bound bus, paid for by wishers, after being stranded for two weeks at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).
In an interview with the Sun, 65-year-old family steward and Well’s granny, Florence Mwansa said management at UTH informed them on Sept. 10 the health institution did not have personnel to deal with such rare specialized conditions.
Ms Mwansa said the hospital management also advised that the only option was for them to take the child for specialist treatment in India if they were able to meet their own costs.
But the family is too poor to manage that option and actually relied on social welfare support to meet the cost of travel from Samfya to the UTH in Lusaka.
“We were told that the doctor who can operate on the child is not available at UTH and that the only option is to take him to India,” she said.
Ms Mwansa said, “We were informed that everything about him, including the brain was working alright but that there is no doctor who can ably operate on him to open his eyelids and implant eyelashes there.”
She said the family was forced to live at UTH for about two weeks after the meeting with the medical personnel because they did not have any money to travel back to Samfya and the Social Welfare Department did not also have any funds to support them with.
“We were supposed to travel back to Samfya on Sept.28 but we did not have any money, so we were stuck at the UTH,” Ms Mwansa said.
According to Ms Mwansa, the boy was initially referred to UTH, from Samfya, two weeks after his birth so that medical experts could operate on his sealed eyes but that they were advised to return to the village after staying in hospital for two months.
“We came back to UTH on Aug.18 and we were well received by the medical personnel who promised to operate on the boy like they had promised last time we were here,” she said.
Ms Mwansa said the doctors later conducted a scan on Wells and assured them the possibility of the boy seeing were high but demanded that the family first pays K2million for the operation.
“l told them I do not have any money and that even coming for the appointment was difficult for me, I had to be assisted,” she said.
Ms Mwansa said they were advised to go to the Social Welfare Department, at UTH, to seek financial support for the operation but the move also proved futile and the department did not have any funds.