An 8-year-old boy who follows Ghana football on the television in the Upper East Region because he admires Asamoah Gyan has taken his attention off playing soccer with friends for now because his 26-year-old mother is seriously sick and helpless.
The boy, Albert Aburipoore, learned his mother, Susana, was dying with a chronic kidney disease after she had been to four health facilities in the region before she was finally referred to the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) in the Northern Region where she has been on haemodialysis (a blood-purifying process) since 2019.
“We visited Annicom (a private health facility). Annicom suspected fibroid. From there, we went to the Amiah Hospital. I was told I had diabetes and was admitted there. We also assumed it was fibroid; so, we went to Dr Razak’s private facility. Dr Razak said he didn’t see anything wrong with me; he said he only saw my intestines and liver turning around inside my stomach,” Susana said (with a very faint voice) during Starr News’ visit to their impoverished home at Sirigu, a quiet community in the Kassena-Nankana West District.
Her husband, Atingane, added: “In the beginning, we thought it was pregnancy. Several tests were run at the Upper East Regional Hospital. Nothing was found after the tests had been done. Later, they diagnosed diabetes. We visited a number of facilities. Her legs and stomach were swollen. As she was not recovering, we went back to the regional hospital. They (the regional hospital) referred us to the Tamale Teaching Hospital.”
“Asamoah Gyan is my idol. But it has been difficult to play football outside there with friends and be happy even when you score a goal or when your team wins when you always remember your mother is weeping at home because she is not well and your dad is sad because he is too poor to help her. I feel it is better to always stay around her even if I cannot help her,” the boy said.
Sick Susana spends Gh¢900 every week to survive
The troubled couple owns a small farm near a forested hill in the mostly green community. The family depends on that smallholder farmstead for a scanty livelihood.
The TTH takes Gh¢300 from Susana three times a week— which is Gh¢900 every seven days— to keep her alive through haemodialysis.
“She [also requires] getting an arteriovenous fistula (permanent vascular access) for dialysis which is done in Accra or Kumasi at a cost of Gh¢1,500. The ultimate treatment for Madam Susana’s condition is kidney transplant which is mainly done outside Ghana at an estimated cost of $35,000 and $45,000,” the Head of the TTH’s Medical Social Work Unit, Alhaji Braimah Saaka, says in an appeal-for-fund letter.
The letter states further: “The Medical Social Work Unit of the Tamale Teaching Hospital is a department which appeals to organisations, religious bodies, co-operative institutions and individuals to help vulnerable patients. We are, therefore, counting on your support, be it cash or kind, to help save the life of this woman.”
The family has sold out everything— livestock, harvests and even clothes inherited from grandparents— to pay Gh¢300 three times a week at the TTH to sustain her life.
“It is even worse today after we have sold all our possessions. Today, we contact friends for support. We have been appealing to people at marketplaces, funeral grounds and other places. Even getting money to pay our transport fares to Tamale is sometimes difficult.
“At times, whilst we are on our way to the TTH, we are still contacting those we know to not forget about us. We have so far reached out to about 95% of the people we know to keep going in this situation. We have covered about 95% of them in search of help,” said Albert’s father with grief in the tone of his voice.
He furnished Starr News with a copy of the appeal-for-fund letter from the TTH and gave out his mobile-money account details as “0248223870, Atingane Aburipoore” in an appeal for public assistance in support of the ailing mother of his football-loving only son.