Dr ANTHONY BUHANGAMAISO is in a race against time to save his life. A surgeon who has served in several hospitals, he urgently needs a kidney transplant after his deteriorating condition reached the end stage of renal disease.
The good news is that his wife offered to donate one of her kidneys to save his life and keep their young family together. However, the family lacks the Shs 150m required for the transplant but through efforts of his mother and other well-wishers, there is hope that more people will come on board to save the surgeon to help him save more lives, writes Yuliana Namubiru.
This story of resilience, love and unwavering determination unfolds in the heartland of Bunyoro kingdom. I spoke to one of the most remarkable people I have spoken to in a while. Her name is Susan Kaahwa. I had first contacted her son Dr Mark Kunihira to know more about his brother Dr Buhangamaiso, who is critically ill and requires an urgent kidney transplant.
What Dr Kunihira recounted about his family, led me to ask: who is this remarkable woman that raised you? Whose life’s journey is marked by triumphs and tribulations that mirror the lives of many in Uganda today?
Widowed at a very young age and left to single-handedly fend for and raise her very young boys, she succeeded in raising all three boys to become valuable members of society who have served their community as doctors in rural Uganda.
As a courtesy, I wanted to formally ask for her permission to air her story on our X space the following weekend as part of the fundraising drive. I imagined she would not necessarily be willing to join the space, let alone speak of the ordeal her family are currently going through.
Oh, how so wrong I was, in my estimations of Mama Kaahwa! When she picked up the phone, she was softly spoken but firm, with impeccable English and the eloquence of a retired alumna of Nabbingo College and Makerere University of a bygone era.
Mama Kaahwa’s story begins with dreams of education and a commitment to making a difference in her community. She pursued her education with unwavering dedication, eventually becoming a high school teacher who taught biology in many schools across the country, including: Maryhill High school Mbarara; Sir Tito Winyi Secondary School Hoima; Ikoba Secondary School Masindi and Kitara Secondary School to name but a few.
Her teaching career was more than just a job; it was a lifelong passion, an Opportunity to inspire young minds and a means to provide for a young family. Life took an unexpected turn when she fell in love with a young man from Hoima. Together they embarked on a journey as a young couple in 1970s Uganda.
Dreaming of a future filled with love and promise of good things to come, they were blessed with sons as testament of their love and a better life. However, tragedy struck early in Mama Kaahwa’s life, when she was widowed and left alone to raise their small children. With responsibilities of motherhood weighing heavily on her shoulders, Mama Kaahwa faced the daunting task of providing for her family on the salary of a high school teacher and a small coffee plantation she and her sons relied on to supplement her income.
She persevered tirelessly to ensure her sons received an education and the opportunities they deserved. Mama Kaahwa’s determination bore fruit as her three sons excelled academically, eventually pursuing careers in medicine. Driven by their mother’s example who put them through Ndejje Secondary School, then onto Makerere and Mbarara universities, they graduated as medical doctors, bringing hope and healing to their community in rural Hoima.
Tragedy struck Mama Kaahwa’s family once more, when they lost her eldest son, Dr Manzi in a heart- wrenching car accident while he was on duty returning from Kampala to Hoima. The loss of her beloved son was a devastating blow, leaving an indelible mark on the whole family.
As if fate was unrelenting, Mama Kaahwa now faces another harrowing challenge. Her second son, a promising young surgeon Dr Anthony Buhangamaiso, who has served in hospitals across Uganda; such as the Soroti regional referral hospital, Nsambya and Hoima hospitals is now battling a life-threatening kidney failure that requires a specialized operation only available in Kenya.
The operation scheduled for September 15, offers hope of saving his life, but comes at a significant cost. With limited financial resources at her disposal, Mama Kaahwa has tried. She told me of how she has used her small pension and income from coffee-growing to pay for transportation to and from Kampala and Hoima, weekly for dialysis treatment.
She told of the times she has slept on the floors of Nsambya hospital watching over her son, and how this is becoming increasingly difficult at 70 years of age. Yet she and the family are determined to do everything they can to save Dr Buhangamaiso.
Today, Mama Kaahwa is turning to community and the kindness of strangers for help. Despite her advanced age, Mama Kaahwa and the rest of the family are tirelessly working to secure the funds needed to ensure her son’s surgery can take place.
In an act of immense love and selflessness, Mama Kaawha’s daughter-in-law, Martha Namugabo, has volunteered to donate her kidney to save her husband’s life. Martha’s willingness to sacrifice echoes the profound love and unity that have defined Mama Kaahwa’s family’s journey.
As Mama Kaahwa navigates the challenges of life as a retired teacher and once a mother of three doctors, her story serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Her unwavering commitment to her family’s well-being and the sacrifices she has made over the years inspire those like myself who hear her story.
As the clock ticks toward the critical surgery date, Mama Kaahwa’s hope is that the generosity of the community, the kindness of strangers and the love of her family will come together to provide the means to save her son’s life.
Her journey reminds us all that in the face of adversity, the bonds of family and community can be a source of strength and hope, capable of overcoming even the most daunting of life’s challenges.
For support, Dr Buhangamaiso can be reached at 0783 264808