Ally’s family didn’t realize he was seriously ill until he started coughing blood.
“My name is Ally Abdallah Malumbo. I’m 14 years old, and I live with my mother and stepfather in Toangoma, Dar es Salaam. I have an older sister and two younger sisters.
Before seeing blood, I didn’t feel like things were bad. I lost weight but I was still active and ate well. Sure, I was more tired than usual, especially in the evenings. I would have night sweats sometimes, but Dar es Salaam can get very hot, so we didn’t think much of it. I had a cough, no matter what medicine my mother gave me it didn’t get better. It was when I started to see blood when I coughed, that I got scared. I told my mother about it, and she took me to our local clinic. They referred us to the Mbagala Zakhem Hospital.
At Zakhem hospital, the Doctor listened to my lungs and asked me to cough up sputum (the liquid from my lungs) so they could do a test for tuberculosis (TB). It was difficult. We were sent home and told to come back the next day for my results. The next day when we went back to the hospital, they told me I had TB! They told us an organization called APOPO that uses trained rats to sniff out TB had found my illness. They had confirmed what the rat found in their lab and let the hospital know.
My mother was shocked, we didn’t know much about the disease and don’t know anyone in our circles that has it. They talked to us about TB and how it spreads, they shared information on how to protect, my parents, siblings, and friends, such as how I should cough and not share plates and cups with anyone and not spit in the street. I was told about the symptoms, and I realized then that the cough, weight loss and fatigue all pointed to TB. I had to start treatment immediately. They were very big pills; they would sometimes get stuck in my throat. but I had to drink them. I just wanted to get better.
I was determined to finish the whole course of treatment without missing a single day. They told us it would take six months. I have already completed four months! I have gained weight and the cough is gone. I sleep well these days. I had to stay home from school for a while. After some tests I was allowed to go back and am trying to get back on track with school. Now we can talk freely, and I told all my friends. I’m in class seven and will soon sit for my National exams. One day I want to become a soldier like my uncle. I am grateful to APOPO and the clinic for finding my TB and getting me on treatment. I need to be strong and healthy if I am to achieve my dream.”