A friend of mine Samantha Kasibire was a victim of sickle cell whom we used to study with at Seeta Parents School in Mukono District. Her parents who are sickle cell sickle cell carrier got to know when their daughter was a sickler at the age of 6 months when she started showing signs of yellow eyes and having swollen body.
At Seeta Parents School Samantha was my best friend. We used to sleep in the same room and shared the same desk in class. Our fellow students used to bully her because of the yellow eyes and small body. I was always discouraged from being her friend that I was going to contract sickle cell the disease from her. I used to defend her when students bullied her. They used to hide her cups and clothes, nobody wanted to share a basin with her. It was always painful to see her being mistreated by pupils and some teachers.
I remember one day when our mathematics teacher came to class on a cold morning and asked Samantha to remove her jacket, she tried to explain to her why she needed to keep warm. She instead barked at her and said “even if you put on the jacket you are going to die. I even don’t want to teach the living dead”. That statement made Samantha to feel low and defeated.
Towards our Primary Six end of year exams that were prerequisite for being promoted to Primary Seven our last class in the primary tier, Samantha got too stressed as she had missed many weeks of school but wanted to perform well in exams. She started feeling weak and her eyes became dark yellow. I took her to the school health facility which we used to call sickbay to get some medication.
She registered some improvement but after a few days the condition started to worsen. The body had now started to turn pale. Her parents were called to take her for better services. She was taken to a health centre near her home in Kisoga. Because her condition had now gotten worse the health centre referred her to a bigger hospital for blood transfusion. It was now coming to mid night and the family had to look for money to take Samantha to hospital. They looked for money but in vain until when they decided to wait until morning and travel with the public taxis which they could afford.
It was coming to 5 am in the morning and Samantha’s condition gotten worse, she was breathing uncontrollably. Her father left her under the watch of her mother and ran to his father’s home for help. It is a distance of about half a kilometer. By the time he returned Samantha had breathed her last.
The following day we were taken by the school to bury our classmates. Still some students refused to go and said that they would get Samantha’s disease at the funeral. When they said that she died due to lack of blood I told our teacher why didn’t they ask me to give her on my blood because I had more blood, the teacher told me that I was still young to donate blood. When we came back to school my fellow students used to mock me and asked whether I did not get Samantha’s disease, others used to say that I was going to die next. I used to get worried and some did not want to share with me anything.
I used to wish that if Samantha had stayed at the school’s sickbay I would have sneaked and given her my blood when hers had gotten low.