‘Life is beautiful.’ That is this year’s theme for the International Epilepsy Day  in Kenya this year, because no matter how bad it gets life is still pretty beautiful. At KAWE, we shall have a special event today, 15th Feb 2018 as we officially launch our epilepsy clinic at the Riruta Health Centre .

In accordance with the chosen theme, the main focus this year is to celebrate living with epilepsy in spite of the challenges. There has been reported deaths among people living with epilepsy, some being former patients. As sad a topic as it is, mortality in epilepsy is clearly a matter of concern needing to be addressed. In order to try and gauge the number of deaths that have occurred among people with epilepsy, we interviewed families and friends of people with epilepsy that have died in the recent past.

Sudden death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is one of the main cause of death in people with epilepsy. While the real cause remains unknown, there are ways to minimize the risk such as:

  • Seizure control by consistent medication and follow up.
  • Knowing one’s seizure triggers and regulating oneself.
  • If seizures mainly occur at night, sharing a bedroom may be considered.

Mr Mwangi Wambugu is a friend of KAWE on the basis that, his best friend died from Epilepsy related causes.

‘I knew my friend had been taking the epilepsy drugs for sometime but then he stopped and hid it from me. His death was sudden, in fact he died in his sleep.’

Mwangi contacted KAWE in 2016 immediately after his friend’s death to share the story, he also volunteered to encourage those living with the condition. He will be attending the International Epilepsy day.

We also interviewed  the mother of the late Joseph Mathenge, a former KAWE patient. He died in January 2017 at the age of 25. He had been on medication for eleven years, five of which he was member of KAWE. He too died in his sleep.

Though SUDEP has been documented among the highest cause of deaths in people living with epilepsy, other complications too may contribute.
Accidents occurring during a seizure such as drowning or falling to a fire are also classified in the mortality in epilepsy files.

As we remember this day, may we all continue to look on life with a positive note. For all who act as care givers, family and friends of people living with epilepsy, let us keep learning as much as we can as education about epilepsy is the only  effective way to reduce stigmatization.