Eighteen months ago, 28-year-old Mistura Martins was a young woman with all the glory of womanhood written on her plump andbeautiful face.
Her picture showing a good head of hair – by the way, she is a hairdresser – and a smiling face that seemed to tell the world that she had no worries in the world, bears no resemblance to the gaunt figure that sat on a chair in front of a bungalow in Shomolu area of Lagos, when our correspondent visited.
But despite her severely emaciated look, Mistura tried to smile and make jokes, braving the agony of her condition like a warrior.
But Mistura’s younger sister and her father, a 68-year-old church worker and retiree, Mr. Babatunde Martins, told our correspondent that that afternoon was one of her finest days.
“You are just lucky that she is conversing normally and responding like this. If you had come some other times, you would even be afraid for her the way she might look. Sometimes, she can hardly sit up and lift any part of her body,” Mistura’s father said.
Mistura chronicled the beginning of her woes, tracing it to late 2014, when she started getting some symptoms that she thought were mere allergies.
She told Saturday PUNCH, “It started as a mere headache. The headache was really serious. Then I started having sore throat. One morning, I woke up and realised that I became very tired when I walked a short distance. I also realised I could not carry a small bucket of water.
“Finally one morning, I woke up and could not lift myself up. I was too tired to lift my body. That was when I realised something was really wrong with me. My dad came and took me to the hospital. The first hospital I got to at Surulere had to refer me to the Gbagada General Hospital where a diagnosis revealed that I had kidney problem.”
Unfortunately for Mistura, by the time she was diagnosed, she already had end-stage renal disease.
Doctors said Mistura requires constant dialysis. For over one year now, Mistura has been undergoing exhausting dialysis twice weekly via a tunnelled catheter to keep her alive. One dialysis session costs her father N25,000 and during each session, she has to take Erythorpoeitin and Iron sucrose which cost N8,400 and, N2,000 respectively. In other words, her father expends N70,800 on her dialysis weekly.
Mistura’s father said he had turned to a beggar just in a bid to fund his daughter’s weekly dialysis.
“Now, neighbours run away from me when they see me. They don’t want me to ask them for money. It is not my fault; I can’t stand by and watch my precious daughter die. She is precious because she always found a way to put a smile on my face before the illness,” he said.
According to a copy of the diagnosis obtained by our correspondent, Mistura’s end-stage renal disease requires a kidney transplant.
At the moment, Mistura’s family members are agonising over how to raise money for the payment of any kidney donor they get. Then they would have to pay for the travelling expenses of three persons to whichever country the kidney transplant would be done along with post-transplant drugs.
According to a cost analysis from doctors at the Healing Stripes Hospital, Victoria Island, Lagos, for her complete care, she would require N900,000 for dialysis over a period of three months (at N25,000 three times weekly); N201,600 for her Erythropoietin injection over the same period; N600,000 for pre-transplant screening; N5m for the transplant itself; N1.5m for post-transplant drugs for the first one year and N48,000 for Iron sucrose for the first three months.
In total, for the complete transplant-inclusive care, Mistura requires at least N8.3m.
“Unfortunately, we have to look for a donor ourselves. We have been asking a lot of people and we were told a donor demands about N2.5m. Adding that to the cost of the complete care itself is scary to think about,” Mistura’s father told Saturday PUNCH.
“Both the donor and patient (recipient) will be screened to ensure fitness for surgery and compatibility. The cost of the screening is approximately N600,000. She would also need post-transplant anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life,” one of her doctors said.
To the Martins family, this cost is like a mount that can only be surmounted by God’s grace.
Mistura’s father said that the money he had saved up over the years had been expended on his daughter’s dialysis alone.
“I have had to go from church to church and mosques to beg for money. Some have been helpful. By God’s grace, that begging, loans and debts I have racked up have kept her alive till today,” he said.
When our correspondent visited, he was just about going out. He said he was on his way to look for money again.
“Now, I don’t have a choice but to take my search for money beyond worship houses. I have decided to visit club houses too. I am that desperate to keep my daughter alive,” Mistura’s father said.
It was a Thursday, but Mistura required another session of dialysis the following day. Sadly, her father said he did not have a single kobo yet to pay for that session when our correspondent met with him.
Yet, he beat his chest, boasting that God would not let him down.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the family has set up an account for members of the public who might want to lend a helping hand to keep Mistura alive. They said donations can be made to the account: Sultan Mistura Martins; First Bank; account number 3056205030.
However, Mistura is full of hope. She believes she would find help.
But all her bravado was not enough to conceal the toll that constant dialysis had taken on her.
She said, “I am just tired of this dialysis. I know that is what is still keeping me alive till now. But I am really tired. I wish a miracle would just happen to make the transplant possible now.
“I can no longer urinate or even menstruate. If not for the good family I have, I don’t know what would have happened to me.”
Source: Punch Newspaper.