Sad as Garissa University terror survivor stranded with bullet in bone marrow

A survivor of the April 2, 2015 Garissa University terror attack is unable to pay surgical operation fees to have a bullet removed from his bone marrow.

James Odongo, 43, from Karapul in Alego, Siaya County was short three times by the cowards who attacked the institution of higher learning on the fateful day.

The financial woes of Odongo are partly compounded by the fact that his first wife was in 2020 diagnosed with cervical cancer.

He, together with friends and family, had to shoulder the burden of the high cost of cancer treatment plus those of his regular physiotherapy clinics at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Hospital in Kisumu.

“Unfortunately, I lost my wife to cervical cancer on June 19, 2023 at the Kenyatta National Hospital,” he recounted.

The Star caught up with Odongo on the streets of Siaya town as he went begging for well-wishers to fundraise the medical fee for him.

“I have been booked for an operation at Kijabe Mission Hospital on September 11, 2023. I long to have the bullet on my body removed so I can perform my duties but I have not enough money,” he said.

He noted that he has a health insurance card that can cater for up to about sh300,000 yet the heath facility requires a half a million shillings.

The government, he recalls, took care of the treatment fees when they were evacuated to the hospital in 2015.

However, one bullet which was lodged in the bone marrow of his right leg was not removed.

The doctors, Odongo said, left one bullet for a later date because “it was logged in a delicate part”.

Upon discharg from the hospital, Odongo said, the survivors were given compensation forms by the government of Kenya.

We filled the forms but no compensation has been forthcoming, he said.

He has had to shoulder every health bill by self ever since.

Today he can only locomote using crutches and is observable enduring a lot of pain any time that he has to push his feet.

When the attack happened, Odongo was in his first year, having gone to the institution to advance his education.

But the dream of the then Bachelor of Education student of becoming a teacher was cut short.

“Initially, I was teaching at a private school before I could make decision to go advance my qualifications as a teacher, ” Odongo told the Star.

Currently, the father of five, has no job as the pain has deterred him from doing anything that can earn him an income.

His school going children though, have been lucky due to the benevolence of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) officials in Siaya that he has had to approach.

Even so, the economic situation at home too, he said, has deteriorated and that his second wife, who has no job, is the one who toils to feed everyone.

“I am appealing to everybody to help me have the bullet removed from my body,” Odongo cried out.

Well-wishers can reach Odongo on 0711505801.