A kind-hearted 17-year-old Zambian teenager donates 10 baby bassinets to the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia. Mwenda Phiri, who lives in South Africa, is a grade 11 pupil and founder of the Mwenda Phiri initiative. Phiri has donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UTH.
The compassionate teen said that he was delighted and humbled to see the bassinets being used when nursing staff sent him photos of the bassinets.
“We have received these heart-melting pictures of some of the baby bassinets that the Mwenda Phiri Initiative donated to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the University Teaching Hospital, in Lusaka, Zambia”, he said.
When I was born, my mum told me that I spent 8 days in this Neonatal Unit (also called D-Block) due to minor difficulties. She emphasized that the doctors and nurses work very hard and often with limited equipment, trying to save a baby’s life in the unit, most of whom are in a delicate state.
“And so I’m very delighted that we could afford to donate the 10 baby bassinets to help ease their work and support the mothers and babies”.
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Phiri’s being a carrier of the sickle cell anemia led to the birth of the Mwenda Phiri initiative in 2017. The teenage boy was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia when he was 9 months old. The diagnosis was done by his late great grandfather, Professor Chifumbe Chintu, a former hematologist and oncologist at the UTH in Lasuka.
“I have sickle cell anemia, also known as Sickle cell disease. This disease is not communicable,” he said.
Before the end of the 2017 crisis, Phiri last had a major crisis when he was three years old. From that period, his family remained proactive with his care by ensuring that they condition everything that triggers any crisis. They manage the weather, as well as avoid dehydration and infection.
However, the disease appendectomy, which almost took his life in 2017, changed his whole outlook on life.
“I was fortunate to have access to equipment, medicine, specialist doctors and facilities that saved me,” Mwenda says. Getting the necessary treatment and care for sickle cell survivors especially children is a far-fetched dream for many in Africa as a whole.
This birthed the Mwenda Phiri Initiative (MPI) service of child health to raise awareness and finances for pediatric hematology and ICU in Africa.
MPI has successfully raised funds for support groups and hospitals in Zambia, as well as bursaries for further studies in hematology for Zambian medical doctors.
“Because of the state of my health as a sickle cell survivor, I learned that I am actually among the privileged few, whose parents can afford great health care”, he says.
After being discharged by the doctors following the crisis, Phiri took up the challenge and inquired to find out how many children in Zambia and Africa have or do not have the luxury of getting equipment, doctors, and sundries required to treat children living with the sickle cell disease.