LUSIKISIKI. ‘ Zolile Mabena is in a difficult situation ‘ a severe TB-infection has left him with just one functioning lung. He is too weak to work or even take care of himself, and his social grant was stopped after he completed his TB treatment. He relies on the kindness of friends to support him.
The 36-year-old Mabena is also frustrated with the health services who he feels is keeping him in the dark about his condition. “All I want to know is what will happen to me. Can a person live with just one lung? Or can I have an operation?” asks Mabena.
He was diagnosed with HIV and started on antiretroviral treatment in 1996. Instead of giving him support, his family rejected him when he told them about his HIV status. ‘They even tore up my clinic card,’ says Mabena.
In 2009 he got sick and tested positive for TB. He started treatment, but didn’t get any better and they realised that he had drug-resistant TB. His condition deteriorated and on examination doctors found that his right lung has collapsed as a complication of the TB.
Since then he has been living with a catheter that doctors inserted into his chest to help drain fluids from his collapsed lung. He’s often also in a lot of pain, and although he gets painkillers on his monthly visits to the clinic, the doctors and nurses there has given him no indication on whether there is any chance of him ever recovering to a point where he can start taking care of himself again.
‘At the moment I cannot wash my clothes and do things like cleaning for myself,’ says Mabena. ‘That is the reason I need the grant, to get somebody to do these things for me. Otherwise I need an operation that can heal me so that I can do things for myself.’