Tanzania – Esther

Esther, recovering TB patient in Tanzania

Single mom discovers her son has a rare form of extra-pulmonary tuberculosis.

“My name is Esther, I am 27 years old and a single mom. I contracted tuberculosis (TB) and unknowingly passed it on to my child. His immune system was weaker than mine and he began showing symptoms before I did. As I cared for him, I noticed a lump growing on his neck and he was very tired all the time. Then I got sick and began coughing a lot, sometimes running a fever and losing weight quickly.

I went to the clinic, and because I have no one to look after him, I took my son along as well. The doctor told me that he wanted to test me for TB. The doctor noticed the lump on my son’s neck and after asking a few questions he said he wanted to test my child for TB as well. This scared me even more. I had to cough liquid from my lungs (sputum) into a cup and the doctor said that we could come back the next day for our results.

The next day he told us that we were both positive for TB! It meant that both my son and I could begin treatment. We met a community healthcare worker from MKUTA called Rashidi who spoke to me about what we would be going through. He said that he had been through it too. He also told me that APOPO’s rats found my TB and their lab confirmed it! I couldn’t believe it.

It’s been a tough six months, staying isolated and taking medication that sometimes makes you feel worse than the disease. I had to stay home for so long, it became very heavy on our finances. I have no husband to support me and quickly went through what little I had saved. But MKUTA health care workers looked out for me and gave me hope. They told me I would get better and that I could rebuild our lives again. My neighbors helped with food or a little money when they could, and we got by. I am grateful to APOPO for finding our TB. But most of all I am happy we are alive!”

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