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Alex mom with elephantiasis pleads for help

Limpopo Health officials are investigating the death of two toddlers at Dr CN Phatudi Hospital. (File Photo)
Written by Ramatamo Sehoai

An Alexandra woman, who survives on social grants and is constant pain after contracting elephantiasis in her left leg, is too poor to get the treatment she needs for her condition.

Linah Kekana who contracted Elephantiasis in 2005 says she cannot afford surgery. (Credit: Ramatamo Sehoai / Health-e)

Linah Kekana, who contracted the rare illness that caused her leg to swell to an abnormal size in 2005, cannot have the expensive and complicated surgery needs at a state hospital.

Kekana, a 45-year-old mother of seven, can no longer walk or even stand for a long time. She is on chronic medication for high blood pressure and diabetes. And she has been told by doctors that they cannot promise her any long term prospects with regard to her elephantiasis healing.


Elephantiasis is a parasitic infection is caused by the filarial worm, which is transmitted from human to human via a female mosquito. The parasite, once inside a human host, grows to become an adult worm that lives in the person’s lymphatic system, causing extreme swelling in their limbs.

Kekana, a 45-year-old mother of seven, can no longer walk or even stand for a long time.

“My wish is to get well and be able to work for my children. I don’t want to grow old like this,” she said, with tears in her eyes. She cries every time she talks about her condition.

“I survive on my children’s social grants and my husband is not earning enough,” said the sad mother.

‘Difficult to heal’

A local private doctor in Alexandra, Dr Molebatsi Setati, said elephantiasis is difficult to heal unless the patient is able to afford a really good surgery and that is very expensive. She said this kind of procedure is not available at public health institutions.

“For now, I would advise her to maintain her chronic treatment for diabetes and high blood so that she doesn’t suffer a double blow, because high blood pressure affects the flow of blood. She needs to have simple physiotherapy exercises on her leg to help with blood circulation in the affected area,” she said.

About the author

Ramatamo Sehoai

Ramatamo Sehoai is an award-winning community journalist from Alexandra Township who curved his health journalism at FrayIntermedia and Mail & Guardian. He has written for numerous publications as a freelancer and won fellowships. Ramatamo is one of our Gauteng based citizen journalists and hosts a weekly talk show at Alex FM. He is also studying towards a BA Honours in Journalism and Media studies at Wits University.