Shantel Kajowa is 5 years old.  She is Major’s cousin, Regis, child.  She lived at our village in Batanai until recently when they moved closer to Chidamoyo.

 Shantel has a younger sister Cailtlin who is 6 months old.  Regis’s is in his last year of Bible College training to be a pastor and will finish in June this year.

Last year in December we noticed that Shantel was getting a big stomach and when she came to the hospital in January we noticed she had a very large spleen.  All the tests we could do here turned up no reason for the spleen enlargement.  

In March I took her to a private Pediatrician in Harare for more investigations.
Through many tests and doctors we found out she had liver fibrosis due to bilharzia (a common parasitic disease here) found in rivers.  Almost 95% of children in our area are infected but she is one of a few who gets severe, life-threatening complications.  This was causing her spleen to enlarge.

Since March 2015 the doctors decided to treat her conservatively and try and save her spleen.  Unfortunately her spleen continued to grow and when I returned in December she was not doing well and her spleen had doubled in size.  I took her in a couple of weeks ago to the doctor she was seeing.  We did more tests and decided we would see surgeons to see if they could help. Her spleen was now into her groin and unable to expand anymore.  It was in danger of rupturing!

Through all of this she has been very sick.  She looks 10 months pregnant and it is hard for her to wear clothes and she is wasting away because she can’t eat hardly anything because all the organs in her abdomen are being squished!  As soon as she eats she is full.

Her platelets have been running dangerously low for one year (24-27) and her Hemoglobin is also low. The spleen eats up all her platelets and red blood cells which makes it dangerous for her if she were to fall or have an injury.   On Saturday we had to transfuse her blood.

Wednesday we saw very qualified and wonderful surgeons and they are going to  take out her spleen on Tuesday at Harare Children’s Hospital.  They will cover all of her expenses and they felt confident she could be helped.  We will have to buy her new skinny clothes to go home in from the hospital!

Everyone who meets her is so impressed with her.  She is very sweet and always has funny things to tell me.  She was sitting in my office this week and I had to draw blood work on another kid.  I put the tourniquet on and was getting the needle ready when she went through my basket and found an empty blood tube and said “you need this too you know!”  She may grow up to be a doctor or a nurse here!

Please keep her in your prayers and that the surgery will solve all her medical problems.  She is being admitted today (Friday) to prepare for the surgery.


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