WFH NETWORK

Salomon: hemophilia and soccer in Kenya

Salomon is a 10-year old hemophilia A patient who lives in Kenya. He walks a kilometre to school with a donated crutch—even when it rains or when he has a bleed. On several occasions his mother, Alice, even carried him to school. These feats are by no means small, as Salomon lives in Kibera, near Nairobi, Kenya, which is the second largest slum in the world. By some counts, the population of the neighbourhood is over a million people. In this environment, rain often turns the earth streets into treacherously muddy terrain.

Salomon has been receiving donated factor from the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program for five years. The donations have had a major impact on his life as they allow him to be physically active knowing that if he has a bleed, it can be halted before it becomes serious. Salomon had some access to prophylactic treatment from birth, which, while not enough to allow him to keep full mobility in his legs, nevertheless prevented him from being wheelchair-bound—which, sadly, is the fate of many children with hemophilia in the developing world. Ideally, all children in Kenya would be put on prophylactic treatment from birth in order to prevent dangerous bleeds from happening, but factor supply is limited in the country.

Despite the challenge of living with crutches, Salomon is a happy boy with a joy for life. The young Kenyan plays video games, and spends time with his friends and family as any other boy would. He also goes to school, where he enjoys learning about science. His physician—Kibet Shikuku, MD—visits him in the slum to monitor his health and help him with his treatment. When asked how he finds his way to his young patient in the confusing labyrinth of shacks and roads of Kibera, Shikuku explains that he uses landmarks to get to the general vicinity of Salomon’s home, and then asks for more precise directions from locals.

While Salomon uses crutches, he is till mobile enough to play soccer—an activity boys without access to factor simply cannot risk doing. Salomon’s relationship to the game of soccer is more than just a passing interest—in fact, it’s more of a passion. He plays often, despite his hemophilia. In fact, he plays so much soccer that Shikuku says, good-naturedly, “He loves football like you can’t believe. But we don’t have enough factor to let him play as much as he wants to. We would of course like to give him more factor… We fight every time he comes to visit me because he plays so much soccer!”

The WFH Humanitarian Aid Program is very active in Kenya. In 2019 alone, the Program facilitated the donation of nearly 6 million IUs of factor. Since 2015, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program has provided nearly 17 million IUs of factor to the African nation.

About the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program 

The WFH Humanitarian Aid Program improves the lack of access to care and treatment by providing much-needed support for people with inherited bleeding disorders in developing countries. By providing patients with a more predictable and sustainable flow of humanitarian aid donations, the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program makes it possible for patients to receive consistent and reliable access to treatment and care. None of this would be possible without the generous support of Sanofi Genzyme and Sobi, our Founding Visionary Contributors; Bayer, our Visionary Contributor; Grifols and Roche, our Leadership Contributors; and our Contributor, CSL Behring.  To learn more about the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program, visit www.treatmentforall.org

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