BY BARNABAS MANEBONA and GARY HATIGEVA
IT all started with non-stop coughing since 2016.
Asthma-like (shortness of breath) then took place this year after the period of coughing since 2016 having forced Deacon Kenneth Soaki, (Purotu Katoa), 39, to come over to Honiara currently suffering with a Tracheostomy (breathing tube) on his neck.
Deacon Soaki who was expected to be ordained as Priest under the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) on June 3, will sadly postpone his ordination due to his current critical condition.
Having served as a Novice under the Melanesian Brotherhood (MB) for three years and seven years as a member of the Brotherhood, Soaki has been healing a lot of people during his service with the MB.
He served in Isabel Province for three years, Makira province for two years and in Central province, for a year until later time, he became a security officer at the South Pacific Oil Company for a while before heading back to Isabel province to carry on with the work of the church, by healing people.
In 2013 he underwent courses at Tasia (ACOM Church Priest School at Isabel) through to 2016; he later graduated with a Diploma and became a Deacon.
He was doing his practical, serving the people of Buala at the Jejevo Parish, when he started experiencing these complications.
Island Sun early this week met Mr Soaki (Katoa) and his wife Mrs Loretta Soaki, who has been strong by his side despite the situation, which had also forced her to skip work for over a month now.
Because of the health condition and situation, the 39-year-old Deacon can only speak in a hoarse voice.
Speaking on behalf of her husband at the Chester House to Island Sun, Mrs Soaki described how her husband came to become in his current situation.
“It all started with non-stop coughing since 2016, we came to the hospital early last year thinking that it might be cancer or so but there was nothing found wrong with him then,” said Mrs Soaki.
“Early this year with his coughing situation worsening, we suggested for him to travel back to Honiara so that he would try re-taking a scan to find out the real cause of his illness.”
“On arrival in Honiara was when he started feeling the asthma like breathing worsening, causing him in finding it hard to breath.”
“He arrived on Thursday and it was Saturday he was struggling harder for his breath that he was taken to the National Referral Hospital (NRH). He first underwent a scope before they found out that there was a growth (meat) inside of his voice box blocking it causing the asthma breathing as there was only a small space left to inhale and exhale from the mouth.”
On finding out the cause of Deacon Soaki’s illness, an emotional Mrs Soaki revealed what upset her then was when the local medical Doctor told them that they could not take any more action over the situation as operation for the growth on him is impossible at the hospital. She said the Doctor added on that there were no facilities for such operation.
But the Doctor adding on the opinion that maybe Specialists can do the operation motivated Mrs Soaki finally getting served by one.
“When reaching the hospital, the Doctor told Deacon Soaki that in order for him to breath, he must sign-up to have an operation to his throat in which he desperately signed by himself and had the breathing tube (Tracheostomy) on him finally managing to at least breath in a normal way,” said Mrs Soaki.
“On the night they operated him was around 7.30pm.
“Next morning the Doctor came around again to do check up and called to have a conversation over my husband’s illness in which I only received negative comments.
“The Doctor said that my husband’s case will now be hard to be treated. This is because Solomon Islands do not have facilities to examine how far the growth has grown inside of him.
“So they said they cannot do anything as I will only have to take him back home to keep him well.
“This is how they told me but in my determination, I believe that there is still a possibility somewhere for my husband to undergo further examination and operation to save his life.
“I believe that we are not helpless as the Lord is there to guide and protect us having a plan for every individual.”
She said she does not buy the local Doctors advice as she has hope.
“If the Doctor said Specialists can do such operation then why end our discussion that there was nothing more they can do to help,” questioned Mrs Soaki.
With her strong determination after numerous attempts of calls to the hospital being said to be ignored to book in seeing a specialist, Mrs Soaki’s struggle was rewarded after being assisted then by a government member.
“I was told that Specialists will be arriving on the 5th of May in which I struggled finding a way to meet up with them. This is because seeking assistance from the hospital was not helpful,” said Mrs Soaki.
“When we rang the hospital, they instead only told us questioningly that if we were booked to see the Specialists then what will they be able to do as they will do nothing.
“We still did not give up, upon meeting one the country’s government members in the hospital, we explained our situation to him and told him that we wanted to be satisfied from the local Doctor’s recent opinion to see Specialists over my husband’s case.
“On hearing this, he assisted us making it possible in which we are satisfied from what we hear from the Specialists.
“A reference was made for us and in the letter stated that we still have a high chance if we go overseas.
“Though it will need a big operation but it can still be treated overseas.”
From the news they have received, plans are now being made within their family by working together to send the couple overseas for the operation.
They are now thinking of ways to do fundraisings not ruling out the fact that they understand too that it is not only them who have gone through the same situation in which many have also received help from the public towards such situations.
A hindrance in the Deacon’s current situation also is the delay of his medical report as it has now been weeks. If the medical report had already been ready at the time being assisted by the Specialists then it is understood that the government member was willing to assist him to one of the 10 reserve beds at Saint Vincent Hospital in Australia.
It is now weeks as they are still waiting for the medical Doctors report.
However, the Specialists telling them also that things would be made possible if they were privately sponsored is why they are taking this route.
“Calling and texting for the medical report has not been made possible yet as there has been no response,” said Mrs Soaki.
“So because of the delay is why we are suggesting of finding ways ourselves by doing small fundraisings and so before finding a way to who we can make contact with in order to arrange our travelling. So this is where we are at now in our waiting.”
On March 4 this year was when Deacon Soaki travelled from Isabel to Honiara and on March 7 he operated being discharged five days later resulting in the couple returning to and fro to the hospital for saxon medicine which to them seems quite unfair.
Mrs Soaki had added raising disappointment to how her husband was operated, the attitude in how they were being assisted and the medicines of only Paracetamol and amoxicillin that Deacon Soaki left the hospital with.
“My husband was normal with his sick, it is after this operation he undertook that is now posing threat to his life,” said Mrs Soaki.
“We have been struggling to rub and clean the sore on his throat with local oil products so that the operation won’t get infected.
“He coughs during night time’s not feeling normal with the tube hanging on his neck.”
Despite of the challenge faced, Deacon Soaki is grateful for the support shown by his wife and their family.
He is humbly waiting for possible ways that will help him receive operation to what he is combating against.
On Sunday, June 3, is sadly Deacon Soaki’s scheduled date to be ordained (Ordination) as a priest which will is unlikely to take place due to his medical situation, but Island Sun is also of the view that having helped people during his church service, his critical situation now, also needs help in a way of giving back to his gracious service.
Within these next two weeks, Deacon Soaki will still be waiting for his medical report at the Melanesian Brotherhood Chester House, Point Cruz.
Anyone with kind generosity who wishes to assist the couple in their plans over the current tragic situation they are facing can call them up on 7773302.
Deacon Soaki and his wife have been married since 2009 and despite the Deacon’s wife has left her work for nearly more than a month now, she says her husband is her priority.
The couple is happily married with a beautiful six-year-old daughter who is currently being looked after by immediate family relatives.