"When one of them sent me a text message that I should escape, I refused."
KAMPALA - When bedridden Safina Nagawa's hospital bill accumulated to over sh2m, out of desperation, one relative suggested this: Escape from the healthy facility.
That was at Bishop Caesar Asili Hospital in Luwero district, where the 18-year-old was admitted in critical condition due to heart disease in November last year.
The advice to flee stemmed from the fact that Nagawa's relatives could not afford to clear the sh2.3 hospital bill. And for fear of allegedly being arrested for failure to pay the dues, she abandoned the frail teenage girl - leaving her to the mercy of the hospital staff.
She had to be put on life support as she could not breath normally.
Recently, a group of visiting health experts from Belgium gave her drugs, which have helped her improve by strides.
When Saturday Vision visited her recently, Nagawa could sit, something that was not possible before since her admission to the facility.
But she said she needs good food yet she cannot afford it as she is penniless. Also, doctors have advised that she needs to check in at Mulago Heart Institute for further management of her life-threatening heart condition.
"The hospital bill is the main reason my family stopped coming here, fearing they might be arrested for failure to pay," she said.
"When one of them sent me a text message that I should escape, I refused. I felt it would have been unfair to the hospital management, who have helped me all this long, giving me the necessary treatment that has kept me alive," add Nagawa, who lost her biological mother while still a baby.
Her father, Martin Kinobe, who lives in Kinoni village in Nakasongola district, says he just has no money to foot the bill.
Nagawa is meanwhile indebted to her uncle, Paul Lubwama, a charcoal dealer in Matugga, for coming to her aid every once in a while - despite his low financial status.
For now, a desperate Nagawa is praying for goos Samaritans to come along to her rescue. She wants to clear her hospital bill in Luwero in the hope of being moved to Mulago for further treatment.
(To get through to Nagawa, email the writer of this story using firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 0782811445)