Sunday, December 17, 2017

Shabana's brave battle

...her body has been weakened by kidney disease, but her spirit remains strong

These images show Shabana Mohammed before she fell ill, and how her kidney illness has weakened her. PHOTO Donstan Bonn

Eight years ago, a 21-year-old customer service representative with the State airline was enjoying her work, hanging out with friends and had intentions of furthering her studies.

But a chance meeting with a travelling passenger changed Shabana's Mohammed life forever.

At the time, Mohammed's feet had been swollen for days. She did not know why as she felt no pain or any major uncomfortable feeling except fitting her swollen feet into shoes.

While checking-in, a doctor, travelling in first class, noticed her condition. After examining her foot briefly, he told she was suffering from a heart or kidney malfunction and gave her a contact number for another doctor.

Within a week, an appointment was made with that doctor and Mohammed discovered, a kidney was failing her.

She spent some time at the San Fernando General Hospital shortly after, going through tests and treatments and later on a biopsy.

In 2006, Mohammed was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) a common form of kidney disease.

On March, 1, 2010, her kidney failed her completely. She said: "In the years in between, I was on medication and in and out of the hospital trying my best to live with the disease."

At 25, when Mohammed heard she would have to be on dialysis, all her life's hopes were crushed.

Mohammed told the Express: "The whole world came crashing down. You are kind of dying with just a machine to keep you alive. I felt like life had ended and I was just getting a second chance at it."

She said: "I honestly thought it would go away. I never thought it would reach to this.I always had hope it would leave."

Today, the 29-year-old is now jobless, confined to a wheelchair and is in need of a kidney. She lives in Chaguanas with her parents Nazrul and Gwenete Mohammed and younger brother Rasul. She occasionally goes out with them.

She worked for a year with the airline but had to quit because of health reasons. Many of her friends left her when she became ill and she also suffered a broken relationship. 

But being ill has taught her who to really trust she says. And though she may be weak physically, Mohammed said she was stronger.

"I am stronger on my own but the truth is, I am stronger because of my parents and my brother. They have been there for me more than anyone."

Three times a week Mohammed visits a dialysis centre in Freeport.

Mohammed told the Express: "I need a kidney because I want to live a normal life once again. I don't want to be going to do dialysis. I want to go back out to work and go out with my friends. I go out with my parents sometimes but Trinidad and Tobago is not really convenient for a wheelchair."

But she still has hope. Hope of pursuing her first degree in Marketing.

Last month, chief executive officer of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Anil Gosine

said some 6,441 dialysis are performed annually at the San Fernando General Hospital with the use of only 10 machines.

At the SWRHA, each month, there are 14 new kidney patients and 120 on dialysis, he said.

By year's end, 14 machines will be utilised he said.

The SWRHA was in the process of implementing new services as well as improving existing services for kidney patients he said.

He encouraged persons to get medical check-ups regularly "because early detection of the disease makes it easier to manage and alleviate the risk of complications affecting the body."

Once detected at an early stage, kidney disease was treatable he said.

Gosine also urged the public to become kidney donors when they die.

Anyone willing to assist Mohammed can call 317-3621, or email her at