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Njambi Koikai: How She Endured 18 Operations That Turned Out To Be Trial And Error

Njambi Koikai: How She Endured 18 Operations That Turned Out To Be Trial And Error
TLate Reggae MC Njambi Koikai PHOTO:Courtesy

Kenyans continue to mourn celebrated Reggae MC Jahmby Koikai who passed on Monday, June 3 after a long battle with endometriosis.

Fyah Mummah as she was famously known, died at the Nairobi Hospital while receiving intensive treatment after a relapse from the menstrual disorder.

Before her passing, she was vocal about her difficult battle with the condition that she had lived with for 17 years, and had not been properly diagnosed until well into her 30s.

Endometriosis is a chronic condition that causes tissue similar to the lining of the uterus to grow outside the uterus. This leads to inflammation and scar tissue forming in the pelvic region and elsewhere in the body.

In a past interview with KTN’s Catherine Mwangi, Njambi detailed how she went through 18 surgeries before she was properly diagnosed with the disease and the toll the procedures took on her.

Doctors in Kenya had repeatedly been unsuccessful in establishing the root of her pain, especially since her type of endometriosis had manifested in her lungs, often mistaking it for other pulmonary conditions.

As the condition recurred every month, the surgeries did less for her than intended, as it continued to spread to her uterus, bowel areas and ovaries.

In 2015, after a series of tests done at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi, Njambi was finally diagnosed with Stage 4 Thoracic Endometriosis, a condition where tissue that would normally line the uterus grows inside or around the lungs.

With a correct diagnosis, she began looking for treatment options in Kenya but her efforts proved futile. Her rare condition was far too complex to treat, and there were only a few medical institutions in the world equipped to handle such cases.

That led her to the Centre For Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America where she began receiving treatment.

Njambi recounted how her first surgery at the centre took a toll on her, especially after how severely damaged her lungs were from the trial-and-error surgeries she had in the past.

Because of the way the illness had been managed back home the surgeon in the US could not “believe all that had been done”.

“The scar tissue and the placement of wrong chest tubes [in Kenya] created this mess,” she said.

“Because of those 18 surgeries, they had messed up my lungs, I was in the theatre for 12 hours and they had to graft parts of my lung because half of my lung had been eaten up,” she narrated.

Recovery took her a year and a half, and since then she had been raising awareness of the disease in the media as well as on her social media platforms.

In May, Koikai had sent out an appeal to President William Ruto as he embarked on his US state visit. She urged the President to advocate for increased investment in healthcare, highlighting the plight of endometriosis warriors.

“As you commence your State visit to the US, I’d like to kindly add a few visits that would help the millions of Kenyan women battling in silence,” Njambi said in her message to Ruto.

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