Ailing Kenyan journalist dies

May 14, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Ailing BBC journalist Eliud Abong’o who has been suffering from colon cancer has passed away.

Elly as he was known by many was due to be airlifted to India on Saturday for specialised treatment.

He had undergone treatment for the cancer which comes with growths in the colon, rectum and appendix in various local hospitals and passed away at the Kenyatta National Hospital on Friday afternoon.

The radio journalist died roughly a week after his family, friends and well wishers held a fundraiser for him to cover medical expenses for his treatment abroad.

In an earlier interview with Capital News at the Nairobi Hospital before the fundraiser, Elly said he developed this problem in early 2008.  “I went to Kenyatta National Hospital where I was diagnosed with colon cancer,” Elly had explained.

According to medics, the symptoms of colon cancer depend on the location of the tumour in bowel and whether it has spread elsewhere in the body. Symptoms and signs are said to be divided into local, constitutional (which affects the whole body) and metastatic (caused by spread to other organs).

Elly said he underwent one surgery of the colon at Kenyatta Hospital to make a bypass but three years down the line the disease seemed to progress. He had also been on chemotherapy, a form of cancer treatment that uses chemical agents to kill cancer cells.

“I would go for sessions after every 21 days but now I have stopped as I await further medical treatment. Last year I went for eight sessions of chemotherapy which cost me about Sh800, 000. This year I have gone for four which have already cost me Sh650, 000,” he had said in this interview.

“You see, the disease has finished me financially and what remains cannot cater for the house needs and everything else.”

The young father of one had explained that his condition deteriorated around March when he was reading news at the BBC studios here in Nairobi.

“I was in the middle of the bulletin then all over a sudden I could not project my voice but you know I had to read the news and finish. People in the London office were listening and they said that is not Elly’s voice unless something is happening,” he remembered.

“By the time I was coming out of the studio there were so many people standing by the door asking me what happened but I was not able to speak and I felt weak,” Elly had said.

He was rushed to hospital where he underwent a scan and the oncologist advised that he undergoes surgery, to remove the part of the colon that was affected and this type of surgery could only be done in India.

“It seems as if now I need to go beyond drugs and have surgery,” he had said.

He was expected to receive the treatment in India for a period of six to eight weeks.

The Capital News team sent its condolences to Elly’s family as they come to terms with the turn of events.

Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua also sent his sympathy to the family and friends of the late journalist.

He said the death had robbed the country and journalism of a person with positive attitude and professionalism that touched all.

“Even during his last days as cancer weakened him, he never lost hope – a lesson to us all,” Dr Mutua said.


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