Fetene – Ethiopia

When a charity group in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia found 17-year-old Fetene, he weighed just 66 pounds. Fetene had been sick with tuberculosis (TB) since he was 13, and had already cycled through three grueling, ineffective TB treatment regimens. His parents had abandoned him, leaving him severely malnourished and isolated.

Fetene was taken by the charity to a government hospital. There, doctors found that TB had ravaged not only Fetene’s lungs, but also his stomach. Given his clinical symptoms and his previous, multiple TB treatment regimens, Fetene’s doctors presumed that he had drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) and started him on appropriate treatment.

But by then it was too late for Fetene. Because his disease had gone undiagnosed for years, he was so sick he developed another lung infection. Furthermore, the years without a diagnosis and proper treatment rendered his body too weak to fight.  After less than two months on his DR-TB regimen, Fetene developed respiratory failure and died.

It took four years for Fetene to receive an appropriate diagnosis and treatment for his MDR-TB. In the meantime, he lost not only his health, but also his family and any other form of social support. By the time Fetene did receive a proper diagnosis and adequate care, it was too late.

Story Collected by: Daniel Meressa, Global Health Committee (St. Peter’s Hospital), Rocío Hurtado (Global Health Committee, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School), Anne Goldfeld (Global Health Committee, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School), and Sok Thim (Global Health Committee)