How a liver disease brought two Kenyan lovebirds together in a foreign land - Kenya Satellite News Network
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How a liver disease brought two Kenyan lovebirds together in a foreign land

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On a hot Sunday in July 2016, Anthony Maina Ng’ang’a finally met a woman who, for a number of days, had been asking him dozens of questions via messaging platform WhatsApp.

The meeting happened at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, India, as Anthony’s systems were coming to grips with adjustments that had been done after a major surgery and the heavy medication that followed.

The operation that was conducted on June 13, 2016, saw 65 per cent of his mother’s liver surgically removed and attached to his, a process that slammed the brakes on a rare liver disease that had been plaguing him for more than five years.

The inquisitive woman, Ms Ruth Muthoni, was scheduled to undergo the same procedure as Anthony’s mother on August 8, 2016, at the Medanta Hospital, about two hours away from the hospital whose medics had operated on Anthony.

Sixty-seven per cent of Ruth’s liver was to be excised and given to her elder brother, Mr Peter King’ori, who had the same rare disease as Anthony.

She had been posing the many questions to Anthony as she sought to understand everything about the procedure, having obtained his phone number from a former classmate.

That communication between Ruth and Anthony, under trying circumstances; that brief first meeting at the hospital in New Delhi, has progressed into a marriage — a love story between a liver recipient and a liver donor that was brewed in India and whose main ingredient is a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis.

When they let Lifestyle into their rented house in Nairobi’s Ngumo Estate for breakfast, it was the 53rd day for the Maina’s since their wedding that took place at the Lily of the Valley Garden along Kiambu Road on December 15, 2018.

The breakfast meeting also came eight days to Valentine’s Day 2019, a day that will mark a year since Mr Maina went down on one knee to propose to her, whereupon her answer was a no-brainer.

We find them watching cartoon series “Family Guy” on Netflix. Ruth, 27, ensures everyone in the living room has a cupful of hot tea and buttered bread before she sits by her husband, 30, for the interview.

Anthony Maina makes the right pick on his fiancé Ruth during the traditional wedding in September 2018.

Anthony Maina makes the right pick on his fiancé Ruth during the traditional wedding in September 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY

WE MET TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE

“When we had that first encounter, I don’t think any of us knew it would end here because, at that time, in the situation we were in, we were just trying to get information and share it with each other,” Anthony says.

Ruth says that they arrived in India on a Thursday and went visiting Anthony and his mother Eunice Wangari on a Sunday.

“They were looking really good. It was just a month after surgery and I couldn’t believe they had undergone the operation,” says Ruth.

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On hindsight, she believes Anthony and his mother were putting on a brave face to give her assurance ahead of her operation.

“To some degree, I think they were acting. They didn’t want to discourage us. They were sick but they just wore smiles, something that really encouraged us,” she says.

The two maintained their communication until the day Ruth and her brother Peter went for surgery. Liver transplant operations are scheduled in such a way that the donor is the first to be opened up so that doctors can be completely certain about the quality of the liver.

Once medics are satisfied that the liver is good enough to be transplanted, the opening up of the recipient’s chest starts. Ruth says her surgery lasted 14 hours while her brother’s, which was delayed for about an hour, went on for 18 hours.

Ruth’s surgery having been completed, and as her wound healed, it was Anthony’s mother — her future mother-in-law — who signed as her caregiver.

“She took care of me while my mum acted as my brother’s caregiver,” Ruth says. “Anthony couldn’t visit me in the hospital because he had not recovered fully. So, we continued chatting over WhatsApp,” Ruth reveals.

It took over a month before Ruth recovered enough to move around. In those early post-surgery days, doctors had instructed her to walk a lot. That is where Anthony came in handy. He visited her the same week she was discharged and encouraged her to follow the doctor’s advice.

“I didn’t feel like doing it; but he managed to push me,” she remembers.

“After that, he took me to visit my brother who was still admitted in hospital, and while we were there, it was him who was taking care of me instead of my mum and my aunt. He was wheeling me around in the wheelchair, which was really nice. I think my mum and my aunt felt like I was in good hands. They didn’t have to keep checking behind their backs to see what I was doing,” narrates Ruth.

Those were the beginnings of their relationship.

ln days to come, Anthony would take Ruth to a mall nearby, which they say is the only place a person could find “normal” food because Indian food is typically jammed with spices that wrestle down the palates of the uninitiated.

“He was living about two hours away from me via train,” she remembers. “On that day, he arrived early in the morning and we had breakfast, then we went to the mall and he walked me round.”

IS THIS LOVE I’M FEELING?

Anthony could not help falling in love. He admits that the attachment began when they were exchanging messages on WhatsApp.

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The “how are you feeling today?” or “what happened today?” and such questions, he says, drew him closer to Ruth, who graduated with a degree in Information Technology from Strathmore University in 2015.

“She didn’t realise that as she was talking to me, it was also helping me recover better because at that time, not many people would talk to you continuously,” says Anthony, who graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from Dedan Kimathi University in 2014.

“In a foreign place, it can get boring and lonely. So, most of the time I found myself just talking, and when she came to India and they went through the surgery, I felt like it was now my turn to just keep her company, talk to her while she was recovering; just be the comfort that she would need because she had done the same for me,” adds Anthony.

So, who among them was the first to say “I love you”?

“Of course, him,” says Ruth, laughing.

Anthony Maina with Ruth Muthoni in India.

Anthony Maina with Ruth Muthoni in India. PHOTO | COURTESY

It happened after they had both returned to Kenya from India, their surgeries having been successful.

“In India, she just thought I was taking her out on dates and showing a lot of interest in her because she was the only Kenyan there,” jokes Anthony.

“I thought I was his India entertainment,” Ruth adds in the same spirit.

After they returned to Kenya and she realised that Anthony still had interest in her, she started taking him seriously.

“She saw I was serious and she decided to easen up; because before she was a hard nut to crack. Everything was just ‘No,’” Anthony narrates.

They also think the gods put the odds in favour of their meeting, same disease — primary sclerosing cholangitis.

RARE DISEASE

According to mayoclinic.org, the condition blocks the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine, which causes liver damage in the long run.

“A liver transplant is the only known cure for advanced primary sclerosing cholangitis,” the site states, noting that scientists still do not know what causes the condition that mostly affects men.

“It is a rare disease. In Kenya, I’ve only heard of, including myself, maybe just three people, four maximum, who are suffering from it,” says Anthony.

The fact that Anthony and Ruth’s brother had the disease, and the fact that their livers failed around the same time, makes them see the workings of a divine force.

“I think all this was in the plan of God,” says Ruth.

“And then there is the fact that a really close friend, whom I’d call a sister, found herself in the same class as Ruth. Those were very rare odds. I’d say that to some extent, fate brought us together,” Anthony says.

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His queen, her king

“After meeting her, my life just turned around. She says it’s because I got better, but to me, to some extent, I feel she also has some positive input to it because when you get to this point in life, you need to get focused, and she’s the one who makes me get focused and try to build a stable life for her and for myself. She brought a lot of positivity to my life,” says Anthony.

They are also glad that parents from either side approve very highly of their marriage. Anthony, one of two brothers, says Ruth is now considered the daughter his parents always wanted to have.

Ruth says her mother holds a very high opinion of Anthony.

“My mum says that the one thing she’s happy about Maina is how strong he is; that even when he was sick, he was able to go to work and just try and lead a normal life,” says Ruth.

And how is life in marriage taking them?

“It is fun,” Ruth replies. “Of course, we have been making a few adjustments; getting used to living with one another. But it’s been mostly good.”

“I used to live alone but after the wedding, she came in and we live together. It’s been exciting. It is what I had hoped for, if not better,” Anthony chips in.

Anthony was born in Eldoret but was raised in Nyeri while Ruth has spent most of her life in Nairobi. Anthony’s plight was widely shared on social media ahead of his trip to India, and pictures of his emaciated, discoloured self moved Kenyans to contribute generously towards raising the Sh7 million that was required to facilitate the transplant a success.

The couple is now adjusting to life together, or to “have a very long period of non-conflict” as Anthony puts it. He is currently working with a company that offers financial solutions through technology while Ruth is a consultant in IT.

On Thursday, as loved ones throughout the world mark Valentine’s Day, Anthony is preparing something special to celebrate their love.

“I can’t disclose it now because it has to be a surprise,” he smiles.

Ruth is eagerly waiting for the day. “Since he proposed last year, I’m waiting to see the surprise he has for me,” she says, laughing.

The way the two met is an example of unconventional circumstances that brought people together, who later got married.

In Kenya, there have been cases of people who met at football matches and later tied the knot. There is even a case of people who met through comments on a popular blogger’s platform.

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Diaspora

Kenyan woman battling cancer in US appeals for help to pay her house rent

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

A US-based Kenyan woman has touched the hearts of many with her story. Zipporah Kamau who was diagnosed with one of the most devastating forms of cancer last year and has been going through Chemotherapy in Seattle, Washington, says the doctors recently told her that she had only three days to live.

Her story is heartbreaking to say the least. In a tragic twist of fate, soon after she arrived in the US in November 2017, her son was struck by a car and died in Nairobi.

When she and her then husband attended the funeral, he passport got lost and she was forced to apply for travel documents to get back to the US.

She stayed in Atlanta, Georgia, for a while before relocating to Seattle to live with her friend, only identified as Beth. It was then that she got sick and was diagnosed with Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. Now the doctors tell her that she may need to go through dialysis as her kidneys are failing.

“I have gone through 9 rounds of Chemo and now they have told me that I have to start another round of palliative chemotherapy but I don’t think I can do it any more. My body is totally ruined by the previous round of Chemo,” she tells Jeremy Damaris of Kikuyu Diaspora TV in an interview.

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“They recently said I had only three days to live and that my kidneys are affected..but I know I can live longer than that in Jesus mighty name,” she adds.

Zipporah Kamau (Right) pictured here at an event in Kenya in 2016. PHOTO/BMJ MURIITHI

Looking emaciated and weak, she appeals to well wishers to come to her aid and help her to at least pay her house rent which has accumulated to over $4,000 as she has not done so since June last year.

“I live with a friend where I am supposed to pay $600 a month but because of my condition, I have’t been able to meet my end of the bargain for the last six months. My roommate is a very nice lady but she can only do so much,” says Zipporah as she fights off tears.

Zipporah Kamau during the interview. PHOTO/SCREEN GRAB

During the interview, she sends a message to her children back in Kenya. “Whatever happens, just know that I love you all very much,” she says, after calling each of them by name. She wishes she could pay fees for her children who who are in college.

Photos taken in 2016 show a healthy and bubbly looking woman compared to the recent pictures which depict a pale shadow of her former self. You may send your donation via CASHAPP.  The number is +1 253 499 3845 (Zipporah Kamau) or via MPESA at +254 718 504 548 (Jeremy Wambui)

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To get the full story, Watch the video below courtesy of KDTV:

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Diaspora

VIDEO: Kenyan-born Gospel Musician set to launch new DVD/CD in US

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Renowned Dallas-based gospel arstiste, Lizz Ndung’u MD is set launch her latest album in Texas this coming weekend (Sunday February 24th, 2019) at Rhema Gospel Church: 2700 Warren Circle, Irving, Texas 76502 at 2:30 PM. 

The forthcoming album is titled “Ndimuirigire”  ( I am guarded) which talks about how God  protects His people by surrounding them with a divine hedge of fire.

Besides being a singer, the former Atlanta resident is also a song writer whose star has continued to rise since she launched her first CD six years ago.

Her first album titled  “kirigiriro” (Hope) was released in 2013 while the second album entitled “Ngai ndarikitie nawe” (God id not done with you yet) was launched in 2016.

“I consider it  a huge blessing to introduce an additional name in my third album, ‘MD’ which stands for my husband. My previous albums only bore my first two names, Lizz Ndung’u, but I have since gotten married and I thank God greatly for that,” said Lizz in a Press Statement sent to KSN this week.

The event, which will be presided over by Rev. Dr.  Solomon Waigwa will be graced by a retinue of fellow gospel artistes with popular Diaspora media personality Jeremy Damaris as the Master of Ceremonies (MC).

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Lizz says the new album has already  powerfully ministered to her personally even as she looks forward to the launch. “God has been truly gracious to me and my family,” she says.

Her music is in both Kikuyu and Kiswahili and most of it is about giving hope and encouraging people to have courage as they face the challenges of life.

She says this new release will touch many in a myriad ways besides being a blessing to those who will watch or listen to it.

Lizz can be reached through her facebook  profile: @ Lizz ndungu. Her music Facebook  page  is @Lizznproductions while her email address is endungu95@gmail.com.

She and her husband Davis MD Maina  can also be reached via her phone number –404 751-6781

They welcome all friends and well wishers to Sunday’s event.

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Diaspora

STRANGE: Kenyan man in US says women reject him because he is a perfectionist, great cook

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A Kenyan man in Boston, Massachusetts in the US cannot find a wife because he is a great cook. Albert Kiage is not your average ‘hustler’. He has everything going for him. He has a good job, a string of real estate properties in the United States and Kenya and drives top-of-the-range SUVs.

His house is furnished with all the fancy electronic gadgets anyone would wish for in life. What’s more, Kiage’s says he has a balance worth writing home about in his bank account. What Kiage, however, lacks is a wife.

Not that he has not tried getting one. He is divorced once and has watched three women leave him because he is not only too clean, but also a great cook and a perfectionist to boot.

“I think I am an incurable germophobe, with an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that drives women away. I had constant wrangles with my first wife over small matters of hygiene and we divorced in 2007 after two years of marriage. I couldn’t stand her. I found her too dirty for my house. We just couldn’t cope,” complains Kiage.

Biggest problem

He says he has dated three women since then. In all the cases, he says, the relationships were serious and he hoped they would lead to marriage.

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Unfortunately, that was not to be. “The problem has always been the same. The first one always complained that I am a perfectionist. The two other cases were almost similar, with one complaining about my insistence to cook all the time. Truth of the matter is she was a joke in the kitchen,” says the accountant.

His biggest problem with most women stems from the fact that he is an incredible cook. Having lived his entire adult life single, save for the short-lived marriage, he has perfected his cooking skills and can’t stand bad food.

“You can only eat out for so long,” he says. “As a gym enthusiast, you want natural foods which you cannot find readily when you eat out. I am also very keen with my diet, it has to be balanced,” he says.

Living alone has taught him many things, culinary-wise. He can whip up every discernible Kenyan meal, including chapatis. “In fact some Kenyan female friends even come for chapatis, cake and barbecues at my home over the weekends. They know I am good at it. We always laugh over my obsession for cooking and cleanliness, but it’s never that serious,” he says. This, however, comes at a cost. It has continuously kept potential wives away.

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House wife

They come, settle, try to keep up with his standards, but many cannot. Partly because life is too busy in the United States for anyone to depend on homemade food every day of the week, and partly because Kiage must eat at home. He is able to do it. He doesn’t see why he should relent. Not that he chases them away. They just chicken out.

“They become increasingly uncomfortable, since I insist on cooking for both of us. I don’t mind at all. But many say, it is un-African,” he says. He says many women in America, whereas they are busy and crave independence, they still want a chance to play the role of a traditional house wife. And many are not ready to compete with him in roles that were traditionally considered to belong to women.

Kiage says his culinary skills must have been nurtured when he was young, when he was growing up with his father in Eldoret.

“I lived with my father and I used to do everything on my own. So I learned everything and became quite independent. Living as a bachelor only made me perfect the skills,” he says. He says he is praying and hoping to find a fellow perfectionist to settle down with.

READ ALSO:   Kenyan woman jailed for using money wrongly sent to her M-Pesa

Source: Standardmedia.co.ke

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