Heartbreaking story of a young woman who was attacked by robbers and left paralyzed

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Jane Nwangi, 30 was walking home from a church service on the evening of
May 28, 2015, when she was attacked by a thug. Jane shares her story with The Star, Kenya………
“I live with my parents in Civil Servants Estate in Kariobangi South.
The area is not very safe and has seen many incidents of mugging and
shooting. It was worsened by upcoming constructions where gangs would
hide and attack people walking by.

I had just alighted from a matatu
and was walking home at about 7.30pm. I was talking to a friend as we
headed to my gate. Out of the darkness, a young, bearded man stood in
front of us, blocking our way. He looked nervous, but demanded for our
valuables.
 
I gave him what I had in my hands: a Huawei mobile phone. He quickly
went to the M-pesa app and started fidgeting with it. With him
distracted, my friend managed to get away, leaving me at the mercy of
the thug.  He demanded for my PIN to access the cash. Too frightened to
think straight, I mumbled some numbers. He put the pin and when he could
not access the money, whipped out a gun and in a split second, fired it
through my chest.  Everything happened so fast. The pain was unbearable
and I started losing consciousness. I could not scream as loud but kept
begging him to spare my life. He ran off into the darkness.
 
The bullet hit my right shoulder and went through my back. It was
trapped by my sweater where it hang until the doctors saw it.  I fell on
my back. I could hear sounds far away but did not make much sense of
them. I was repeating the Mpesa pin as if the assailant was still there.
 The gunshot reverberated through my neighbourhood, attracting
attention. The first person to respond was my immediate neighbour. I
could hear her desperation as she exclaimed, “They shot Jane!” She
started shouting for help.  My parents came very fast, and got me to a
nearby hospital which referred me to Kenyatta National Hospital.
 
However,
it was at Coptic Hospital where I was admitted the same night. The
doctors worked hard and fast to control the bleeding. The next day, I
went through hours of surgery. The doctors informed me that the bullet
missed my spine by only a millimetre. It however destroyed nerves in the
area, leaving my whole body without feeling.  I was coming to terms
with the events of the previous night when the surgeons came to my bed
side.
 
They
told me as calmly as they could, that I may never walk again, since the
bullet grazed nerves on my thoracic spinal cord area.  I could not feel
the lower section of my body, so I could as well assume I won’t walk
for a while. But never walk again? The news left me dumbfounded.  
 
I would undergo painful physiotherapy sessions every day at the
hospital. But I was determined to get my whole life back. After some
weeks of treatment, I was discharged.  I have no control of my bowels so
I use a catheter. My mother has to clean me up as well as do everything
else for me. Everything. Would you imagine being washed by your mom at
30 years?
 
I also needed a special orthopaedic mattress that cost Sh80,000. A
good Samaritan offered the mattress for free.  I could not turn myself
in bed, or even sit up without assistance. This left me with bed sores,
some so severe that I have been in and out of hospital for treatment.
 The life of loneliness, being bed ridden and house-bound, began.  Out
of empathy, my friends raised funds to get me a wheelchair. I had to
learn how to operate it to get me around.  
 
Having a catheter inserted in the body to pass urine is another whole
world of learning. I am more prone to urinary tract infections now and
must take medications to clear them. We were not prepared for this when I
was discharged from hospital, and it has taken its toll on me.  When we
sought a second opinion, the neurosurgeon said that it is possible for
me to walk again. He had noticed some form of movement inside my legs’
nerves. He then concluded that since my legs experience occasional
spasms, it means the nerves are still capable of function. This meant I
could walk again!  
That was the good news. However, the treatment was only available
abroad, he said, because no Kenyan hospital has the ability to treat me
beyond what I have received so far. My friends have taken to searching
for a hospital that can offer rehabilitative treatment to help me.  We
have been in communication with a hospital in Texas, USA. They have gone
through my medical records and have responded.  They quoted a treatment
regime that can help me regain control of my bowel movement, and get me
off the catheter.  For that, I need at least Sh10 million ($100,000).
That would be followed by more rehabilitative treatment to help me
regain use of my lower body.
 
I have made it this far because of many well-wishers who have heard
my story and sent in their Mpesa contributions. No matter the amount
whether Sh50, Sh200, it has helped me through hospital stays, which have
been very expensive.  So far, I have spent close to a million
shillings. I have no medical insurance, and I am still unemployed.  It
is the power of friendships that has paid my bills this far.
 
I need money to make it through the treatment, and my friends and
former university colleagues both in Kenya and abroad are helping me.  I
later learnt that my Huawei mobile phone, which was stolen that fateful
night, was eventually sold on OLX. It was later returned to me, after
being tracked by law enforcement.  
 
I cannot use it, because of the trauma it brings. To this day, I am
yet to find out who the seller and buyer of the phone were.  

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