By EMMANUEL BALA
JOY Umbu Pupu, undergoing treatment for kidney failure, is regreting the lifestyle choices she made while growing up.
The 67-year-old mother of eight, from Wapenamanda, Enga, was diagnosed with diabetes in 2001. In 2012, she found out it had reached Stage Five – the final and most dangerous stage of the ailment. It means the kidney cannot filter the blood and remove waste from the body. The patient therefore has to rely on a dialysis machine to do those body functions. There are two types of dialysis: hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. They both take over the function of the kidney.
Since there were no dialysis machines available in local hospitals then, she travelled to Manila in 2012 to have the treatment. She was there for two weeks.
On her return, she found out that she still had the problem. Her eldest son then suggested that she should go to China. She was told that she would receive not only dialysis treatment but also given injections of stem cells to help cure it.
So her eldest son, her husband and two of her relatives, helped her get to China in 2013. After receiving the stem cell treatment, the doctors told her that if she was lucky, her kidney would be have another five to six years because she was already at stage five.
She stayed in China for four months. In 2014 she went back for a review and again in 2015.
When she returned to Port Moresby, she met some people who told her about a new hospital treating kidney patients at Three-Mile.
“I met the PNG Kidney Foundation there. I have been with this centre for five years for my dialysis treatment.”
She continues to pray and hope that the stem cells she received in China will work. She knows the cost for kidney failure patients is a big factor which some cannot afford. She is lucky that she has a family who fully support her and provide her with what she wants to get better.
Her son is always there for her and helps bring her from Gerehu to the centre at Kennedy Estate. When her son is not there, it costs about K60 a day for a taxi.
The dialysis treatment takes about four hours and costs K150 per treatment which she gets three times a week. The cost of injections, tablets and vitamins is separate.
“The main thing is that I listen and obey what the doctors tell me such as what to eat and what to drink.”
On top of it all, she thanks God for continuing to provide her with the gift of life.
“I know that I have a life-ending disease but I’m happy.”
Her advice to people: “Have regular medical checks even if think you are healthy, eat the right kind of food, drink a lot of water and do exercises. And avoid eating processed foods from the store.”
She thanks the Kidney Foundation Centre staff who are always helpful, polite and prompt.
“I’m happy to remain in this centre.”
Joy has a trade store in Wapenamanda which she was manning when she was diagnosed with diabetes.
“ At that time I was not aware that processed foods were not good. No one warned us about the sickness and the causes.”
“Processed foods and drinks I thought were good for me. So I didn’t even think about eating garden food or drinking water.”
She fed her family the same food.
“At that time I was not aware that processed foods were not good. No one warned us about the sickness and the causes.”
Today, she can never thank her family enough for the support and everything they are doing for her. She knows that family support is vital for people such as her suffering from kidney failure.
“If families do not support, we will die any hour any day.”
Joy remains confident she still has many more days to enjoy.