Rare skin condition torments Windhoek cleaner

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Windhoek

Not a day goes by without 35-year-old Aron Hairungu – who has a rare skin condition that causes him perennial physical and emotional pain – being taunted, sneered at, laughed at and pitifully starred at or people running away.
“I don’t sleep at night. My whole body pains at night. When I sleep I only sleep on my back and when I am walking in town some people laugh at me while others run away when they see me. It feels very bad,” related Hairungu, who has growths at the back of both ears, part of his neck, chest and abdomen.

Hairungu, who hails from Rundu, suffers from keloids. A keloid is a medical condition where there is an overgrowth of scar tissue that develops around a wound.

Hairungu’s battle with the condition started when he was 15 years old. What started as a pimple on his left ear turned into a growth, which had to be removed through an operation. The end result was a proliferation of keloids to most parts of his body.

The father of two explained that doctors grafted skin from different parts of his body to cover the areas where they would have operated on. However, “every time the doctor removed the skin from one part of my body the scars formed on that part of the body,” Hairungu related his ordeal pitifully.

Although Hairungu is a family man, his condition has affected him to an extent that he fears being outdoors unless it is really required of him.
Also, due to the excruciating pain and itchiness that is caused by his condition,

Hairungu who is a cleaner at a Windhoek hospital often takes leave from work.
This, he adds, has put him in bad books with his superiors, who are not always sympathetic with him.

Hairungu’s health passport, seen by New Era, shows how he frequently visits health facilities with complaints of pain.

“…Not everybody is understanding about my condition. If I tell them that I am in pain and stay away from work my superiors are not always understanding. This condition has affected me a lot. I don’t even sleep well,” a dejected Hairungu said.

When it is hot, says Hairungu, the wounds on his skin itch and pain so much that he has to take a cold shower to relieve the pain and itchiness.
He adds that he has sought extensively for successful medical treatment but to no avail. “I found a surgeon who is from South Africa and he is ready to operate on me,” said Hairungu.

The operation, however, would only be for the growths on the left ear, as he does not have enough money, he explained.

But Hairungu has to raise N$15 000 to make this operation possible.
Hairungu has medical aid but it cannot fully cover for his condition.

“I was told that I have to cover for five percent of the operation. That would be N$19,000. So far I managed to collect N$4 000,” he said. Asked whether he approached the state for assistance, he replied: “I tried them but they said they are dealing with those people who don’t have medical aid.”

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