The man in question is Felicien Habanabakize, 43, hailing from Gisozi Sector of Gasabo District in Kigali City.
Hospitalized for 13 years at Kibagabaga Hospital, his legs are paralyzed, pleading for God’s mercy to save his life, as he spends all the times on his hospital bed.
Habanabakize was admitted at the hospital in January 2010, after falling from a house he was roofing in 2009. His back was seriously injured that it affected the backbone.
“I was taken to the University Teaching Hospital of Kigali [CHUK] following the accident. I spent two weeks there before I was transferred to the University Teaching Hospital of Butare [CHUB] for back surgery.
After spending six months awaiting surgery at the hospital, doctors told me that my situation would be much worse and result into death if they performed the procedure because I had an injury on the backbone below the neck,” he narrated.
Since then, CHUB transferred him to Kibagabaga Hospital in Gasabo District. His arms and legs are paralyzed that he is unable to move and spends all his days reclining in bed.
Because of leaning for several years, he has multiple wounds on his back, thigh and legs. He receives medication but they seem to be always fresh as the parts of his body are lean on his bed.
This has led to depression because of his deteriorating life.
“There are times when I wish to die, but cool down as I see others in similar conditions. I just stay in my bed and wait for God’s mercy because I can’t do anything about it,” he said.
Realizing that there is no hope for recovery, his family seems to have abandoned him and no longer visits him. Habanabakize depends on good Samaritans to survive.
Psychologists helping patients and families on daily basis have revealed that such circumstances affect mental health making it harder to accept such painful life.
Habanabakize is among other patients who have spent several years of sufferings in hospitals.
Emmanuel Nyandwi, 35, is in his fifth year at the hospital after falling off a bridge. His legs are also paralyzed. He last saw his relatives visiting him in 2018 and never came back.
Nyandwi also disclosed that family’s affection is much needed in such situation because it helps them overcome depression with a feeling that they are not alone.
Their burdens are not only limited to physical suffering but also endure emotional pain. The hospital bills bring a huge blow to their life as they have no sources of income. According to Nyandwi, the hospital charges him Rwf15, 000 every month and the money keeps increasing due to failure to pay.
His family initially catered for the bills but no longer do so due to lack of means.
Jean Baptiste Muvunyi has been on ventilators helping him to breathe for the past four years.
It all started by swelling of the chest. He thought the condition would be easily treated but worsened overtime.
“Realizing that my health conditions were worsening, I went to a health center hoping to be treated and return home. However, I never returned because the situation was more severe than I thought,” he revealed.
He was immediately transferred to Kibagabaga Hospital where he was put on ventilator until today.
Muvunyi highlighted that patients spending long time at health facilities need special care from their families, nurses and doctors to move on with life.
Before the sickness, he was a mason. Muvunyi hopes to recover one day but worried about the cost of services.
He revealed that doctors recommended him a device that can help him to breathe but it would require Rwf6.5 million which he cannot afford.
As Muvunyi said, he was promised to be discharged once he gets means to buy the device. He is waiting patiently that good Samaritans would one day bring a smile to his life by helping him cater for the price.
Muvunyi and Sephora Uwingeneye, a mother of three suffer from the same sickness. Uwingeneye is always worried about the education and wellbeing of her children.
Need for special support
The Director General of Kibagabaga Hospital, Lt col Dr Ernest Munyemana has said that patients staying in hospital for a long time are likely to be abandoned by their families.
“Under such situation, patients feel desperate and depressed. If psychologists do not stay closer to them, their health conditions can be much worse and might end up catching new diseases,” he said.
This hospital mainly receives patients with serious illness who need special medical care.
In most cases, patients who spend long time in hospitals include those with serious injuries unable to perform any activities or cannot breathe without ventilators among others.
In some instances, relatives are irked over the prolonged stay in hospital and give up on their patients.
Dr. Munyemana pointed out an example of a patient who spent almost 10 years without any support from her family at the hospital. After passing on, Dr. Munyemana said, relatives came to pick the deceased for burial disguising themselves as neighbours.
“They were identified by hospital employees who once saw them looking after the patient and informed me. We approached them for discussions,” he said.
The hospital helps patients by linking them to people who pray for them.
The management also identifies patients without means to cater for hospital bills and link them to donors willing to support needy patients.
It also works with districts to identify avenues for possible support to lessen patients’ burdens.
Dr. Munyemana has encouraged people to subscribe for Mutuelle de Santé to access health services and families to make it a habit to visit patients lest they feel isolated.
“Some patients have no families to take care of them but we blame families which abandon patients and come to the hospital sometimes to confirm whether they are still alive or not. People need to be kind hearted and understand that people catching diseases need special attention especially when hospitalized,” he said.
The management of Kibagabaga Hospital says that the facility receives between 200 and 250 out patients every day and has the capacity of accommodating 200.