Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore, who came back to Kenya after a 9-month hiatus, has revealed chilling details of how he was misdiagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.
In an exclusive interview with Citizen TV‘s Jeff Koinange on Thursday, Collymore narrated how he fell ill and it took a long time before doctors realised he had a serious medical condition.
“I had been feeling unwell for awhile, tired and with high temperatures from time to time; it got so bad that I could not make it to company events,” he said on the JKL show.
However, Collymore said he didn’t think much of it because the high temperatures would not last very long and he would be feeling better within a short while.
During a visit to Morocco, Collymore said he started experiencing flu-like symptoms, his body would start shaking and had severe pain in the shin; the bones at the front of the leg below the knee. “I thought to myself it’s not something you experience unless you kick something really hard,” he said.
He then called his wife to tell her what he was feeling and she suspected that he had malaria as his symptoms seemed similar to that caused by the mosquito-borne disease. However, when he returned to Nairobi and went to get checked, he was told he had Vitamin D deficiency and was given supplements.
Collymore said he was not satisfied with the diagnosis and decided to seek a second opinion from Dr. David Silverstein at the Nairobi Hospital.
“He did 30 different blood tests that cost me $1,000 (Ksh100,000) but said he could not get what the problem was. He needed to do more tests which meant I had to be admitted,” the Safaricom CEO added.
This was the first time that Collymore said he had ever been admitted to hospital and the first test they did involved removing bone marrow from his body and testing it.
It is at this point that Dr Silverstein told him that the problem could be with this blood and since he is not an expert on such issues, he referred him to a specialist in the U.K.
This was back in 2017 and with the Kenyan election coming up and his company’s end-year events, he told the doctor that he would oblige after he discharged his duties.
However, Dr Silverstein was adamant that Collymore should leave the country that very night.
He left for London and it is there that a hematologist diagnosed him with Acute Myeloid Leukemia: a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.
Here is the JKL interview in full: