Elisha’s Story

In March 2009, 2 boys carried their very sick brother of 21 years to the Lwala Community Health Center.

Elisha had been working in Nairobi when he first fell sick. After attending private clinics in Nairobi with no improvement, Elisha was unable to work, and traveled home. By the time he reached Lwala, his health status had deteriorated drastically. Elisha was first seen by clinical officer John Badia, who diagnosed the young man with pulmonary tuberculosis and Stage 4 HIV disease. Minute lesions were detected on Elisha’s body and were biopsied.

Elisha’s blood work showed an astonishing CD4 count of only 6. Because he was so anemic, many anti-retrovirals were contraindicated for Elisha. However, because his situation was so dire and he could not receive a blood transfusion, he was started on ARVs with 24-hour observation at Lwala Health Center. He also received nutritional support with help from the World Food Program. Elisha seemed to tolerate the treatment and was discharged to be treated from home by community health workers. He developed Typhoid Fever but the clinic staff managed the treatment well. The lesions on his body became aggravated and multifocal, and they were diagnosed as Kaposi’s sarcoma. Just when it seemed the situation could not get worse, Elisha developed Immune Reconstitution Syndrome. He was admitted at Homa Bay Hospital for 4 days.

After no improvement in the hospital, Elisha’s family brought him home to die. When the Lwala staff heard of this, community health workers visited regularly to continue treatment at home. During this time, he developed yet another opportunistic infection: cryptococcal meningitis. Elisha’s road to recovery began slowly in June of 2009. By August, Elisha could walk to the clinic for treatment. In October, he finished his TB treatment and recorded a negative sputum test. Soon, his lesions began to disappear. Though his meningitis prophylaxis will continue for life, Elisha no longer has headaches. In December, Elisha requested the Lwala staff for a transfer to a facility in Nairobi so that he could return to work.

In January, when he demonstrated secure employment, housing, and a sound clinic, his request was granted. Elisha’s astonishing recovery would never have occurred without the quality care received by John Badia at Lwala Community Health Center and without the dedication demonstrated by the Lwala community health workers. His life is a testament to their compassion, perseverance, intelligence and skill.

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