Chitungwiza Central Hospital will this week undertake another special surgical operation – this time on Penia Kavukatema, a 34-year-old woman who is suffering from a condition that has bloated her stomach, making her appear like she is in an advanced stage of pregnancy.

Kavukatema hails from a poor family that has failed to raise money for the surgery and through its spirit of saving lives across the social strata, Chitungwiza Hospital has undertaken to offer free surgery to save her life.

After many months of vain treatment attempts at traditional and faith healers, recent medical check-ups have diagnosed Kavukatema as carrying a 16, 2 by 15, 5 cm mass in her belly.

This operation will come barely two weeks after the same hospital successfully operated on two other women who also had massive growths in their bellies.

As Kavukatema narrated her ordeal to the news crew, she appeared in so much pain she continuously wriggled and ran out of breath. Her bulging tummy could easily be mistaken for a seven to nine months old pregnancy.

She could hardly sit on a chair during the interview in which she related that a scan which was done at Karanda Mission Hospital in Mount Darwin recently had revealed the mass in her belly could affect her liver.

She said her ordeal started in June when she began to vomit greenish/yellowish bitter substances.

"I felt some pain on the left side of my stomach and then vomited some bitter greenish/yellowish stuff," said Kavukatema. "I sought medical attention at some clinics and I was given some tablets," she said.

Kavukatema said she watched in horror as her belly began to swell very fast and she sought help from traditional and faith healers but to no avail. She also visited some medical doctors but still got no joy until she decided to go to Karanda Mission Hospital in Mount Darwin where a scan was done, eventually detecting the mass in her stomach.

According to her medical records from Karanda Mission, the large mass has a cystic centre near to the liver, suggestive of a liver disease. The hospital also diagnosed her as suffering from heartburn and nausea.

Penia's mother Winnie Kavukatema who accompanied her during the interview, said before the illness her daughter was gainfully employed as a general hand at some lodge in Harare.

"She was relieved of her duties after she fell sick and right now she has no source of income to support her 14-year-old school-going child. I stay in the rural areas with her father who is very old and is sick himself. We have no money and Penia was the one who used to look after the whole family.

"We cannot even afford bus fares to take her to hospital and nursing staff had to make donations to transport her from Karanda Mission Hospital to Harare where they referred her to seek treatment," she said.

She pleaded for help from well wishers saying Penia needed an urgent operation but had no money to pay for the procedure.
Chitungwiza Central Hospital chief executive officer Obadiah Moyo said it was imperative for people to seek medical attention whenever they suspected they had masses in their bodies.

"We recently operated on two females who had masses in their bellies. The first mass arose from territorium issues while the second mass arose from fibroids which were left to grow without attention," Moyo said.

"Anyone who finds that they have conditions they do not understand is welcome to visit Chitungwiza Central Hospital. We will do assessments through the hospital Public Relations Department. We are also there for the socially disadvantaged members of society," said Moyo before inviting Kavukatema to Chitungwiza where he said she would be operated on for free owing to her proven needy circumstances.

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