Kansanshi Mine efforts saves 6-year-old snake bite victim

[By Ryan Ellis]

QUICK action and sheer measure of humanitarian consideration by a Kansanshi Mine employee has saved the life of a six-year-old boy – Sikeva Tobongo of Mushitala area in Solwezi.

Sikeva’s left hand was bitten by a deadly snake, a puff adder while he slept.

The instinct by Kansanshi Mining Plc community relations officer Maximillan Katanga led to the rescue of Sikeva, who risked the loss of his hand or life, when his family embarked on a walking trip to Mushitala clinic to seek medical attention.

Katanga, who works for Kansanshi Mine’s corporate social responsibility department, was coincidentally in the area when he spotted a family flagging him down for a lift and he sprang into action upon learning that the family was carrying a victim of a snake bite.

He immediately drove Sikeva and his mother to Mushitala clinic where it was discovered that the medical centre lacked the anti-venom which was needed to save the boy’s life, although health workers were willing to help.

In his resolve to help save the boy’s life, Katanga quickly secured permission from his employers, for Sikeva to be treated at Mary Begg Clinic, where the anti-venom was immediately administered.

Katanga was informed by the family that, on February 3, Sikeva woke up with a burning pain in his fingers, which was concluded to be a snake bite after discovering a puff adder lying under his blanket as he climbed out of bed.

“As soon as I heard it was a snake bite, I knew I had to do whatever I could. Someone in my family has permanent damage to his hand from a similar bite, so I know what a puff adder bite means. I started making calls immediately to get help for the boy,” explained Katanga.

However, after the initial medical attention at Mary Begg Clinic in Solwezi, Sikeva needed further surgical action to remove the dead tissue in his hand to prevent an infection, which could only be done in Ndola.

The exercise was successfully conducted at Mary Begg Hospital in Ndola where Sikeva was ferried to on February 8.

“A child with a snake bite is always very serious,” said health and wellness manager Van der Merwe. “It could have been very bad. The fact they were able to respond quickly was key to the positive outcome.”

Kansanshi Mining Plc picked up all the medical bills, including clothes for Sikeva and his mother because of the urgency with which they left home, without packing their belongings.

“After the life-saving trip, Sikeva and his mother returned home after a week-long ordeal, but he was alive and well, with thanks to the efforts of all involved,” said Katanga.

Katanga said Sikeva’s situation was serious, because with every passing minute the venom spread through his hand.

In many cases, tissue killed by the venom becomes infected, leading to death or permanent disfigurement of the patient

According to statistics, more than 30,000 people die from snake bites on the African continent each year, and the puff adder causes more of these deaths than any other snake. – Story courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.

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