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Boy suffering from rare bone disease hopeful of recovery

Doctors are fighting to save the life of Nairobi’s brave teenager who has survived over ten surgeries since birth and now needs expensive implants to repair his fractured limbs.

Stephen Mwangi, 19, suffered broken hip joints on both legs only last month and now requires custom-made implants because he already has metal plates on both thigh bones, says James Mogire, the  doctor treating him.

“We now need something special for him. We require expensive implants. They must be custom-made and we do not manufacture them here (Kenya),” said the doctor.

He puts the cost of restoring just one hip at between Sh400,000 and 500,000.

“Besides the cost of implants, Stephen will be with us for a long time because it will take quite some time to manufacture the implants,” Dr Mogire adds.

Mwangi’s delicate condition means he can only use a special bed at Kenyatta National Hospital’s Orthopedic wing, which costs between Sh5,000 and Sh7,000 a day, Dr Mogire explains.

The Form Two student from Kahithe Secondary School in Murang’a county suffers from a rare condition, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease.

Since Mwangi was 14 years old, he has had nine fractures, leading to an equal number of surgeries in which metal plates and “nails” were fixed in his fragile bones to support him.

“I did not expect to be at the hospital at this time; I wanted to be at school so that I may study hard because I want to become an engineer, but I am here again because I broke my leg,” he said.

Electrical engineering

He loves physics and hopes to major in electrical engineering to help his single mother and six siblings.

“I do not want to be here. I would like to be in school because I want to be an engineer. This condition is not good. It’s not anybody’s wish to break a leg. But it can happen to anybody,” he explains.

The condition means that Mwangi cannot play with his peers for fear of suffering another fracture and this has forced his mother to secure him admission in a boarding school to save him the rigours of walking to and from school,” explained his mother Faith Wambui.

She learnt of the condition when the boy was only two years old. “He first developed a skull problem but was treated. He has since developed this brittle bones condition and KNH has become his second home,” Ms Wambui explains.

An operation in December last year saw him fitted with a metal rod after breaking his leg in a freak accident.

Ms Wambui has been forced to rely on Dr Mogire’s kindness whenever she is unable to meet the costs of the all-too-frequent surgeries and medication for her son.