Maria fell ill after nursing her husband back to health.
“My name is Maria Nhamtumbo, I am 39 years old and I have 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. I believe I contracted tuberculosis (TB) from my husband while caring for him during his illness. There is often a negative stigma in the community about TB, but I know that with proper treatment I can be fully cured of my TB. It helped that my husband went through it first, so I learnt a lot from that time. I was relieved that my friends and people from my church were actually very kind and open to my diagnosis.
TB affected my work and income drastically. I became extremely weak and felt constant pain. I did not have an appetite, so I became very weak. My clinic sent my sample to be tested by APOPO. Once I tested positive for TB by the HeroRATs, APOPO’s lab confirmed the rat findings and notified my clinic. I was very relieved that I could begin treatment. I had regular TB which meant taking a few different antibiotics for 6 months with regular re-testing and continuous medication. Eventually my tests came back negative! I am very grateful that APOPO and the HeroRATs provided a quick and accurate diagnosis, and their partner community health workers (Kenguelekeze) encouraged me throughout the process. Without a diagnosis I would not have been able to receive treatment. Without treatment I could have died or passed it on to one of my children.
I was so amazed to see the African giant pouched rats that APOPO trains to detect TB. At first, I was worried that the HeroRATs could smell the TB on me and I wasn’t sure what they would do. But in fact they played a crucial role in finding the bacteria in my heat-inactivated sputum sample. Now, I advise people to visit any health clinic that has partnered with APOPO to be tested. Thank you APOPO for saving my life and allowing me to get back on track.”