The man who paid GH₵975 per week to stay alive

Social media was awashed last month with the death of Kofi Shim (left) and Ray Styles( Right)

Sleep came hard for me on Sunday, November 8, which is a rarity. I’m usually out in less than 10 minutes after landing on the bed.  But last Sunday, I must have stayed awake for more than two hours— sharing time between the phone and the ceiling fan spinning furiously to tame the heat. 

Earlier in the day, news of the loss of a family friend hit me hard and I couldn’t shake it off.

Age 39, cause of death: kidney failure.

His symptoms started about a year ago: fever, weight loss, poor appetite, shortness of breath, itchy skin, frequent urination. He was mostly dismissive of it as signs of stress and hardly slowed down.

A non-smoker, he found out that his kidneys were severely damaged to the point that he could not walk for 15 minutes without feeling like he had run a marathon.

An entrepreneur, he poured his savings, business capital, and later, family and friends joined to pay the weekly dialysis. His wife quit her job to take care of him.

He needed GH₵325 to attend a session of dialysis and for the ideal three sessions weekly, he blows away GH₵ 975 to stay alive.

At the end of the month, the family’s bill on dialysis alone stood at GH₵ 3,900. Before he died, his account and entire family income and savings were wiped clean.

A fundraising campaign by his friends yielded some decent money but it came too late.

Max Billion, as we affectionately called him, died in his wife’s arms last Friday, barely finishing a glass of smoothie he asked for.

He was a friend to fall on at any time, he had a listening ear and speaks the truth to your face. Our paths crossed decades ago in junior secondary school and blossomed into a friendship that has seen two weddings, five children, backyard barbecues, blending our strengths and weaknesses.

As I remembered all these, I realised anew the enormity of Max Billion’s loss, and that reminded me of the words of Josephine Hart, an Irish author.

“When we mourn those who die young — those who have been robbed of time — we weep for lost joys. We weep for opportunities and pleasures we ourselves have never known. We feel sure that somehow that young body would have known the yearning delight for which we searched in vain all our lives.”

Rest in peace Max, you paid your due.

Back to kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease is commonly caused by diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of kidney failure cases.

In 2019, the Ghana Health Service during a press soiree painted a rather worrying picture.

Kidney failure tops all the 10-top diseases killing Ghanaians in recent times.

Last month, I counted not less than four people dying from the disease. It includes the famed and not famed. On October 1, a celebrity pencil artiste, Ray Styles, died even after a last-minute spirited attempt by a number of people including the First lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, who donated money to finance a kidney replacement for him.

Rebecca Akufo Addo Donate $200,000 To Help Creator Emmanuel Apreku Who Has Been Diagnosed With Liver - Opera News

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo Donates $20,000 To Young Artist Ray Styles For Liver Surgery

A range of causes has been thought to be behind the disease, including pesticides, agrochemicals usage, and heavy metals in drinking water.

But experts also point fingers at lifestyle choices including drinking, smoking, eating fatty foods without exercising among others.

Meanwhile, diabetes and high blood pressure are said to be the early sign of kidney disease.

In a world, in which we are always on the run, matters of our health are secondary until we find ourselves on a hospital bed with dozens of needles tubes and wires stuck in all parts of our bodies to keep us alive.

Even before the year makes it bend, I’m rewriting my last quarter resolution to invest time exercising in the last 51 days that stretch in front of us, even if it is just riding a bicycle for 20 minutes and skipping ropes for 10 minutes daily.

It is easy these days to fall for the easy way out. Just check social media and television stations. They are filled with ads, before and after pictures and high-powered promises to keep us trim and fit without our stomachs threatening to burst out of our shirts and dresses.

The offerings are varied and many. From pills to diets.

Man's advice after 162 pound weight loss

Let’s face it, though: a diet that works isn’t fad or fun. It’s tough and requires a lot of discipline.

Unlike the proverbial cat that has nine lives, ours as mortals is just one and we must live it in a manner that on the day of accountability, we won’t be on wobbly legs.

It is good to enjoy life, after all, we are breaking our backs daily to put bread and butter on the table. But that bread must not become poison. Let’s eat well and healthy.

While at it, let’s drink as much water as possible. It’s cheap, therapeutic and washes out the toxic and the undesired in our body, substituting water for sugary drinks is only speeding our way to the grave.

African american man drinking water after to play basketball. by BONNINSTUDIO - Basketball, Man - Stocksy United

Not to say that Max was not health-conscious, he was. It took his death to bring a sense of re-awakening particularly about my health and that of my family.

Don’t let this be your case because it might not take a friend to prod you on the path of good health. You may be the sick one.

Take care of your health, eat well, exercise, sleep well.

You owe that to your body and your family.





  1. Kusay says

    you have said it all. thank you

  2. Anonymous says

    Nice piece!

  3. Anonymous says

    Great one there

  4. Anonymous says

    Very insightful. Sorry for your loss.

  5. Anonymous says

    Word…Thank you…my condolences to the family

  6. Anonymous says

    The rate at which the young are dying from kidney failure requires some sort of national reawakening and strategy to reverse the trend! Health is wealth, not vice versa!!!

  7. Agnes says

    Thank you sir

  8. Sandra says

    May their souls rest in perfect peace.
    Thanks so much

  9. Anonymous says

    Nice piece, you’ve said it all

  10. Anonymous says

    that is great

  11. Kwasi says

    Great piece. Not just an article, but also a reminder. Thanks very much

  12. Augustine says

    Great piece there. May his soul rest in perfect peace…Amen!! My family and I will take a strong cue from it. Thanks..

  13. Anonymous says


  14. Nii Arday says

    Wooow!!! I’m lost for words. Thank you Ghana Report. This is very educative. More of this please

  15. Anonymous says

    God have mercy on us

  16. Mercy says

    God have mercy on us

  17. Anonymous says

    Great piece

  18. Anonymous says

    Awesome piece. An advise to all . Let keep healthy! A word to the wise….

  19. Joe Maclean says

    Thought provoking. Exercise, drinking more water and adequate rest. We cannot chase every money likewise solve all the problems in the world. We shouldn’t also pray for God’s grace of good health. Good piece, Mr Azure

  20. Anonymous says

    This is really good and I have learnt something today. Thanks very much

  21. Kwaku Nyamekye, Accra. says

    Great piece and an eye opener for some of us. Thanks for sharing. May his soul rest in peace. My condolence to wife who didn’t desert him.

  22. Daavi Adzo says

    There is an urgent need for rigorous research in our health sector to establish the cause of the sharp increase in the numbers. So far it’s been more speculative, we can do better as a country.

  23. Becky Siaw says

    You made me cry. Although I don’t know this person, your vivid description made me feel the void. Well done Theghanareport. We value this

  24. Anonymous says

    Well said

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