19 year old rejected by family for battling sickle cell anaemia

Michael Otieno saw off his family in August 2015 at the age of 11 years.

He  did not know that it would be the last time he would see them again.

The 19-year-old fell ill and could not join his family as they embarked on a Journey to Narok, a journey his entire family never got to complete.

Speaking on Citizen TV’s Shajara na Lulu show, Michael Otieno narrated how sickle cell anaemia affected his life.

Sickle cell anaemia is a condition that affects the shape of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

“I could not manage to join them as they left me behind because of the illness, we still communicated over the phone and the last words my mother told me before I went to bed was that I would get better and she loved me,” Michael said.Otieno recalls receiving a call from his aunt informing him that the family were yet to arrive in Narok as expected.

“She unknowingly thought that my family had lied to her about the visit but I informed her that I was the only one left behind, the rest were on their way to her place. I tried calling them but could not access them,”Otieno narrated the flashback.


A photo of 19 year old Michael Otieno.

“My aunt found them at the mortuary in Narok, the news broke my heart into tiny pieces. She told me everyone had perished, I felt like my world had come to an end. Everyone had been taken from me, here I was battling sickle cell anaemia and orphaned,”Michael said 

Before Michaels family wanted to take him  to a children’s home but he refused.

“They divided our families’ property including my clothes, they left me with very little. We came back to Nairobi and started looking for children’s home but I told them I will live where our households’ item will be taken,” says Otieno

He says his aunt took care of him and studied with the help of well-wishers. Later,his guardians started mistreating and avoiding him claiming that he was HIV positive.

“I moved from one family member to another and eventually they would get tired of me. I became a burden to everyone. No one wanted me and finally, I went and lived with my grandmother for six months.

“One night I got sick and my grandmother took me to the hospital using a wheelbarrow at night because she could not afford to hire a motorbike,” he recalled.

His condition got worse, and according to him, he was hospitalised at Kenyatta National Hospital and heavily relied on well-wishers. His family never looked for him for the two years he had been hospitalised at Kenyatta National Hospital.

“A Catholic priest would come to feed me and bathe me, he would clean my mess and change my diapers and dress me and buy me medicine when I could not afford it. That man took care of me like I was his child and I thank him for the sacrifices he made for me,” he said.

“I watched most of my friends battling cancer die, and here I appreciated life. I begged a close friend I had met while hospitalized not to give up the fight but he was too tired and let go,” he added.

His biggest desire and wish were to experience love and care once again, his biggest fear was to die in pain having endured rejection, loss and physical pain. His hospital bill of about Ksh.1 Million was waivered.

“God answered my prayers, Nimrod Taabu interviewed me while in the hospital and I received a lot of responses. My hospital bill was waivered and I was taken to my uncle’s home. Two weeks later I fell ill and I was hospitalised and that is where I found my new family,” he said.

Even though he lost his entire biological family, today he is happy that he found a family that loves him and cares for him, something that he has desired for many years.

He says it’s been a while since he has been hospitalised and is grateful for everyone who walked the tough journey with him.


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