David Muhwezi, the 14-year-old boy whose body is covered in wounds, has been diagnosed with a rare skin disease, Pemphigus.
According to the International Pemphigus and Pemphigoid Foundation (IPPF), Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease that affects the skin and mucous membranes.
This means that the antibodies produced by the immune system to fight diseases mistakenly perceive skin cells as foreign and attack them. This causes burn-like lesions or blisters that do not heal naturally.
They turn into wounds which can cover the whole body like in Muhwezi’s case. Damage to certain tissues may be permanent while some forms of Pemphigus may be fatal if not treated.
IPPF says the disease is not contagious and cannot be transmitted by person-to-person contact or exchange of blood and bodily fluids.
It may take months or years for the sores and blisters to heal, according to MedlinePlus, and they may even reoccur if the antibodies attack the skin cells again.
Muhwezi was admitted in Mulago’s Ward 4B on February 24 where he was first treated for Subcorneal Pustular Dermatitis. After a week, he was referred to Mulago’s Skin Clinic where Dr Fred Kambugu, a dermatologist diagnosed him with Pemphigus.
After another week on treatment, Muhwezi was sent home on March 10. But when new blisters broke out on his arms, we tried International Hospital Kampala where a child with the same disease, Godfrey Bukenya, was once treated in the hospital’s Hope Ward in 2007.
Bukenya had spent two months in Hope Ward that offers free treatment to the disadvantaged with severe ailments. Muhwezi too has been admitted in Hope Ward with a daily discount of 30% off his admission fees.
Here, he moves into a friendlier environment where he will be served with meat and banana, his favourite delicacies.
Muhwezi, who earlier walked like a robot, can now move with ease and spends most of his time drawing impressions of the city he has been studying for the past two weeks - tall buildings, a man speaking on a microphone, different sizes of cars and children playing football.
And with a toy mobile phone a well wisher gave him, Muhwezi’s dreams have drastically changed; now he wants to be a phone technician.