Covid-19 poses additional risk to immuno-compromised woman

Molemole Seima
Molemole Seima
Image: Supploed

Molemole Seima is a three times immuno-compromised woman who suffers from an eye disease called keratoconus, lupus and asthma.

Whilst most of us fear catching the wide spreading coronavirus, people such as Seima who are living with compromised immune systems are at greater risk.

"I always had an eye problem from birth. When I was four-years-old I had my first eye operation for both eyes and I kept seeing eye specialists. In 2003 my eyes started deteriorating and in 2013 I lost my sight in my left eye," she said.

The 33-year-old Pretoria native said she went to an opthamologist who told her that her sight was that of an 80-year-old woman. She was only 26-years-old.

She said as a teenager studying became difficult because of her vision and she was unable to continue playing cricket like her friends because she couldn’t see.

"In 2014 I was referred to the Pretoria Eye Institute and the opthamologist diagnosed me with an eye disease called keratoconus and its incurable though its progress can be delayed with treatment," said Seima.

She was told that she needed a corneal transplant to manage her vision. By this time she had stopped driving and had done four round of laser eye surgery to assist her right eye which was strained from overcompensating for her left eye.

"The left eye cornea was transplanted, the recovery had rejection episodes and it was overwhelming. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my mom and siblings."

While suffering from this disease she also has to manage lupus and asthma. Lupus is a crippling autoimmune disease that causes a person's system to attack healthy tissue such as organs, joints and skin.

"My GP has advised that I stay home even though I have been on remission. I try to self-isolate, especially since I am also asthmatic. I had to change my diet and take enough vitamin C and ginger shots. It is a bit frightening because I am fragile to this virus. Having an autoimmune disease is a bit scary because you already have a compromised immune system."

She also has to ensure she doesn’t rub her eye which still has a scar from the corneal transplant.

"After my transplant there was a scar left around my cornea which is permanent and because of this disease it still remains very fragile, I was warned against rubbing my eyes, so when my eye itches I put a cooled face cloth to stop the itching."

However taking extra caution when it comes to her health is not new to the strong willed woman.

"In caring for my eyes I had to be overprotective. This meant being extra careful around kids and avoiding physical activity. I have to rather take a bath than a shower as well. I have to wear sunglasses indoors to avoid sharp lighting as my eye had become overly sensitive to light."

Although she has had a hard life Seima is proud to have graduated in October last year with an honours degree from Unisa in BCom business management.

She meditates to keep herself stress-free and by seeing a hypnotherapist.


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