Samuel Kadungure Health Reporter
A-16-YEAR-OLD Buhera girl was forced to drop out of school after developing a painful bloated belly which has left her encumbered, gassy and unable to walk as her poor parents struggle to raise U$4 000 for her lifesaving medical operation.
Bridget Zirevi was doing Form 1 at Murambinda B Secondary School before her worsening condition forced her out of school.
Her unemployed parents have resigned to watching her suffer in perpetuity after failing to raise the U$4 000 required for her operation.
The amount might have gone up since the family was last quoted in 2016.
Bridget could be mistaken for a pregnant teenager, with the only difference being that her abnormal belly has no foetus, and is instead degenerating into a mortal threat.
The girl has not gained weight and the bloated belly has left many wondering what is going on with her life.
Mr Devias Zireni said his daughter’s condition started in 2015 when she first complained about pneumonia and later a swollen tummy that worsened last year when she dropped out of school.
“She was a brilliant girl with prospects for a great future, but was forced out of school because of this condition. She is no longer able to stand up and walk without aid. We once took her to Murambinda Mission Hospital and a scan taken on her revealed that she had ascites,” said Mr Zireni.
Ascites is a condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the abdomen. This build-up is usually due to problems with liver, such as cirrhosis.
As the fluid accumulates over time, the abdomen becomes more and more swollen. The swollen abdomen could be caused by a number of other less common symptoms like gallstones, which are hard masses that can build up in the gallbladder.
From Murambinda the patient was referred Mutare Provincial Hospital where she was admitted for three weeks but failed to get the desired medical solace.
“The doctors at Mutare Provincial Hospital demanded another scan, whose conclusion differed with the one done at Murambinda Mission Hospital. They informed us that Bridget had a growth which is causing her belly to bloat. The doctors demanded about U$3 000, for which we only managed to raise U$460. We had also accrued debts of more than U$1200, which made it difficult for us to negotiate a payment plan.
“We tried to negotiate for a payment plan so that she gets operated while we look for the shortfall but the doctors refused, leading to her premature discharge to avoid accrual of additional costs.said Mr Zireni.
Bridget, who could hardly talk and walk described her condition as hellish, and appealed for assistance to undergo the recommended operation.
Bridget said she can hardly do anything by herself.
“This condition became pronounced two years ago and if my parents had money it should have been corrected and I should be going to school with other kids of my age. We live from hand to mouth as a family and I am encumbered because my parents are poor and have failed to raise the money. My belly continues to bloat, and if something is not done urgently, my end could be nigh.
Bridget said her wish was to get well and study hard to make it in life.
“We have tried prayers and other things but it has not helped. I think the solution lies with what the doctors have recommended. I am appealing for at least U$4 000 for the operation,” she said.
Doctors interviewed on Bridget’s conditions said the condition can be reversed if she is attended to urgently.
“It is difficult to give a diagnosis (using the pictures) as there are quite a number of things that cause that. It might be ascites, which is accumulation of fluid in the abdomen. However, it can be caused by other different things too. She needs a scan and examination first. She needs quick intervention,” said Dr Raivha Simbi.
Makoni District Medical Officer Dr Tendai Nyafesa was equally optimistic: “She has ascites of the abdomen, and it can emanate from the liver, kidney, heart or malignancy in the pelvis and abdomen. It can be corrected once the cause is detected.”
Well wishers can contact Mr Zireni on 0777317581.