The fear of being snatched away from her beloved husband at any moment by the claws of death is an unpleasant and constant thought that is troubling 40-year-old Mercy Damisa, an ex-banker, as she bears the excruciating pains associated with kidney failure.
Bonded by fate at their home in Bukuru area of Jos city, Plateau State, Mercy and her husband, Paul Babayo Damisa, met at the University of Maiduguri, where they studied the same course, graduated same year, and were both orphaned early in life.
Their blissful relationship blossomed into marriage, which took place in April 2010, at a parish of the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel), in Maiduguri, Borno State. But that seemed to be the end of happiness and joy for the once ebullient, tall and dark complexioned Kogi State-born woman.
In the course of her national service year (NYSC) in 2007, a medical doctor’s diagnosis at the University of Ife Teaching Hospital confirmed that she had hypertension, a medical condition that claimed the lives of her mother and father. The hypertension diagnosis was followed by a series of miscarriages. Then her kidneys failed, and put her life on a delicate balance.
Today Mercy is pained, depressed and miserable but not because of the dashed dreams and hopes of becoming a top flight banker at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, from where she was compelled to quit because of her health challenges. Neither is she as pained by the inability to bear a child after six years of marriage. Rather, Mercy is being literally crushed by the realisation of sure death, which stares her in the face each passing day if she does not undergo kidney transplant very soon.
Going back in time, Mercy gave The Sun a snapshot of how it all started and what the experience has been since her kidneys failed: “I got married in April 2010, but we don’t have a child yet because of my health condition; I was advised not to conceive after I had three miscarriages and the fourth one was evacuated after six months. My ailment started in 2011, but I didn’t know because I had series of miscarriages, and didn’t know that I had kidney disease until I got to the hospital and the doctor diagnosed the problem.
"Back then, I was a Teller in First Bank Plc, Nasarawa State, but because of the ups and downs, I had to travel often to Jos to see my husband. Moreover, the mounting stress and my health condition forced me to quit the job.
“Most times I have headache, body pain and muscle ache; sometimes I cannot walk; there are series of discomforts associated with kidney failure. But recently, I find it difficult to walk because the pain in my muscles and the backache are almost permanent; after dialysis, it will subside but before the week runs out, the crisis starts again; I will have to go back for dialysis. When my finances are exhausted, I begin to think of where to get money; at such times, I will ask myself, is this my end?”
Expectedly, Mercy is heavily burdened and frightened. Pale and fragile, she appears to worry less about the childlessness occasioned by her health challenges, as she consoles herself with the fact that her husband and his family had unconditionally offered her their shoulders to lean on. “I don’t have that fear; I believe I will get over this situation by the grace of God,” she said.
But beneath this optimism is a heart-piercing psychological pain. “Once in a while I get worried, but my husband consoles me, saying I should not disturb myself; that it is not my fault, and that we should leave everything to God. He says at the appointed time, we would have our children. There was a time I considered telling him to marry another wife to bear him children, but my husband rejected it immediately, and said that he didn’t want to hear about it.
"I am pleading with Nigerians to help me pay for the kidney transplant I must undergo to remain alive. A sustainable hospital has been contacted in India. I am tired of the situation. I pity my people because they have been struggling to get money for the weekly dialysis I am currently doing to stay alive. Anytime the money runs out, they are usually tortured psychologically. I want to stay alive; I want to get over this problem,” she pleaded tearfully.
Mercy’s husband, Paul, 42, an employee of NASCO Foods Nigeria Limited, who hails from Ososo in Edo State, evidently shares the pain of his heartthrob, with whom he had walked on a carpet of thorns for her to remain alive.
At some moments when he reminisces on their days at the University of Maiduguri, where they studied Food Science and Technology and graduated same year in 2002, through the period of their marriage and the sudden crash of their joy and hope, a river of tears flows down his cheeks. And he wallows in the fright of a bleak future and self pity.
Just like his distraught wife who lost her parents at an early age, Paul’s father passed on in 1984, and was joined in the great beyond by his mother in 2005. The thought of losing his young wife is what he does not want to imagine, even for a second.
Sadly, that is seemingly becoming a reality as he toils day and night in search of about N9 million required for his lovely wife to undergo kidney transplant in India, without which her doctors have pointedly told him she would not survive.
Hear him: “The problem started a year after our wedding in 2010; she had series of miscarriages which resulted in high blood pressure and eventually led to kidney failure. Since 2011, we have been going for dialysis continuously believing that the issue would be resolved, but unfortunately, the doctors said the only alternative left is to go for kidney transplant, which is very expensive.
“I work in a private sector organization and can’t afford N9 million for the transplant; it is quite high for me to raise. I actually went out to solicit for support, but the money was not enough for me to take her out of Nigeria. Talking about her imminent death, that is a no, no. I don’t want to imagine that. It is painful for you to see your loved one in a terrible situation and you cannot help out; when the problem envelops her, I wish I could assist, but it is something I cannot do. I wish I had the money to take care of everything but in this very situation, the money is too high and I am helpless.
“She started dialysis in April 2011, at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), where she is still running the dialysis. It was JUTH that referred us to India for the kidney transplant. It is really cumbersome; you can imagine my meagre monthly salary and a situation where you spend N20, 000 weekly on dialysis, that is when we go to JUTH, but if we go outside JUTH when they are on strike, like De-Medical, you spend N20,000 per session which amounts to N40, 000 per week; it is really unbearable for us, not to talk of getting N9 million required for the transplant. I tend to feel for her more, because she always felt that she is the cause of the whole problem. I try to encourage her always and I thank God that my family is also there for her. Most times, she assumes it is her fault that she cannot have her own kids and probably she is depriving me from experiencing fatherhood and a joyful home.
“For a fact, it is quite emotional seeing other people with their children and you don’t have one; our younger siblings have gotten their children to a point of going for family planning but we don’t have any at the moment; it is quite disturbing and we have pressure coming from here and there to go for alternative arrangements and that is really overwhelming, but the issue of getting her out of my life is unbearable for me.
"How I will get money to fly my wife to India for the kidney transplant is my present challenge, because the doctors have said outright that dialysis is not the solution to the problem; dialysis is just a preliminary remedy, not a cure; it is just for the removal of the toxic material from the body; the only solution to kidney failure is what we are battling to achieve.”
While the distressed couple pray for divine intervention, Mercy says she is determined to conquer death in this battle for her soul, and keep hope alive despite her deteriorating health condition.
- Winners Chapel should be able to provide the cash needed to take care of this woman.
- Individuals willing to help her, kindly send your donations to Mercy through her account number: GTBank: 0026125683. Mercy Damisa.