Tanzania – Herry

CAT_4431 Herry portrait smiling

Lucy’s nine year old son Herry was very sick but their health clinic couldn’t find the cause.

“Herry became ill a few months ago. The rest of the family were fine, but he was coughing on and off. It didn’t seem to be serious so we waited almost two months before testing him. In that time, his cough would sometimes clear up and getting to clinic takes a lot of time and we don’t have much money to pay for transport. I have two other children and I am a single mother, so I also have to leave the children with a neighbour.

Then Herry suddenly got much worse. It was so quick we got very scared. He couldn’t stop coughing and he had a fever. He lost his appetite and became very weak. The school was worried he would pass his illness to other children so they asked him to stay at home. I was worried he would give it to his brothers and sisters because he was coughing all night and we all sleep in the same tiny room.

When he deteriorated, we took him to clinic and in two weeks he had two tests for TB, as well as tests for other illnesses, but nothing was identified. We became desperate and I thought he was going to die. I had to stop what little work I had and I had to borrow money just to buy basic food.

Thank goodness that one day the clinic called to say that his sample had been tested by clever rats that can smell TB in people’s sputum. I didn’t understand at first. There are lots of rats around our houses, scavenging in the rubbish. I wondered how on earth they can detect TB? But the doctor assured me that it was true. He said after the rat smells TB, the sample is then retested in a laboratory and that’s when it was confirmed that Herry is TB positive.

He went on treatment straight away and immediately began to feel better. I am so thankful I will not lose my son. He is still at home recovering and is getting very bored. He can’t wait to get back to school but he will have to work hard to catch up. I have to work hard too, to repay my debts.”

Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s deadliest infectious killers. Support APOPO to help mothers like Lucy keep their children safe.

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