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39-year-old Kericho man seeks help for 16-year bullet wounds

A 39-year-old man living with bullets lodged in his chest for the last 16 years in Telanet village within Kericho County is appealing to well-wishers and the government to help him raise money in a bid to seek medical attention.

Collins Kiprono was hit by stray bullets in Kericho town as police were dispersing demonstrators in the wake of the 2007/2008 post-election violence and his life has never been the same since December 26, 2007.

He senses that the bullets, which are lead, may have leaked into the bloodstream, causing his ill health and wants to confirm the extent of damage they have caused.

In an interview with KNA at his home, Kiprono testified that his health began to deteriorate in 2020.

“I am always worried about my fate and it is not easy to live with bullets in your body,” adds Kiprono, who needs a CT scan to help him determine his next course of medical action.

A look at his back confirms the same, with two distinct permanent marks clearly showing the bullets had been directed from behind before being embedded inside his chest cavity.

The father of three earns a living by roasting maize at Kapsoit Market, a venture he opted to take up due to his deteriorating health.

“I used to engage in farming and sell my maize and bean crops to the surrounding markets within my area, but now, due to my failing health, I have stopped all this. I buy maize from other farmers from the different sub-counties within Kericho and manage to roast and sell it within Kapsoit Market. I am committed to this business, having started it in 2015 and the monies I earn go to provide for all the basic needs of my family,” added Kiprono.

With fear in his eyes, he says he understands that, with the bullets still lodged in his body, time is ticking away and he is living on borrowed time.

 

Collins Kiprono shows his back where the bullets ripped into him before being embedded inside his chest cavity.

“For the last three years, each time I engage myself in heavy tasks like digging my shamba or carrying heavy loads, I always cough blood and my breathing system is not okay because I experience laboured breathing. I cannot stand up straight each time I wake up in the morning. I have to wait several minutes for my back muscles to relax on their own before I can stand up and walk. I now walk with a slight hunch,” a teary Kiprono narrates.

Having defaulted on his NHIF contributions as the proceeds from his maize roasting business are inadequate to cater for all his family’s needs, the class eight dropout now appeals for medical and financial assistance to aid his deteriorating health.

“From July 2013, I have defaulted on my Sh500 per month National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions. I used to engage in casual work but the money I would get paid would all go to feeding my young family of three. Currently, my two daughters are in primary school, my eldest is in Class 8 and I am not able to go for another CT scan to confirm my health status,” added a worried Kiprono.

Kiprono, the first born in a family of three, narrates how on that day he had paid a visit to his grandmother’s home at Kipchimchim village on the outskirts of Kericho town and decided to walk to the town while heading back to his home.

On reaching Kericho town, he met a crowd of people and was unsure what was going on. Though curious, the sight of police officers brought him to the reality that all was not well, and he immediately started running with no clear direction for where he was going.

Kiprono adds that he suddenly started sweating profusely with sudden body weakness, like having cold water poured on him without a warning.

He was not sure whether he was alive or dead but the sight of blood on his torn shorts made him cry for help while lying on the stone pavement near the Kericho County Referral Hospital Mortuary.

Passersby rushed him to the Kericho County Referral Hospital using the mortuary entrance, where he was immediately taken for an operation and later admitted to a ward at the facility.

He remained there for three days before being discharged, but with bullets still lodged in his chest, as doctors maintained that any operation would result in his death.

“I came to know that I was shot and two bullets were lodged in my chest. I only got to know about this from the doctors attending to me while I was admitted at the Kericho County referral hospital,” he added.

His family members took him to Tenwek Mission Hospital, where an x-ray opinion confirmed his worst fears. Any operation conducted to remove the bullets would be very risky.

A medical discharge summary dated January 17, 2008, from the medical facility confirms that he has bullets lodged in his body. It states ‘that a gunshot wound to the right chest retained the bullet.’

The doctors advised him to attend medical checkups on a regular basis, a thing Kiprono admits he has not been committed to due to his low income.

“Being a class 8 dropout, I have dreams of my children growing up to be better than I was.” I have never disclosed to them my condition,” adds Kiprono.

His 31-year-old wife, Caroline Chepkoech, revealed that he met Kiprono in 2010 and decided to spend the rest of her life with him, knowing too well that life with him would be full of challenges as he has two bullets lodged in his body.

Chepkoech is worried as her husband, the family’s breadwinner, has been coughing up a lot of blood and has given up all hope that he will get any assistance.

The family can be reached at 0711 868834 or 0723 401633.

By Sarah Njagi

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