She defied lupus for decades but lost war to coronavirus

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
Lorna Irungu.

Njeri Maina@njerimainar

Lorna Irungu, a renowned television and radio presenter who passed away yesterday from Covid-19 complications, will be laid to rest in a private family function today.

Irungu, who lost her battle against the virus while undergoing treatment at Karen Hospital, has been the face of the fight against lupus disease and a champion of women’s rights.

Her bright and infectious smile wowed many Kenyan homes when she hosted the then popular show, Omo Pick a Box.

She was also the presenter of the children’s show Club Kiboko and at Nation FM where her bubbly spirit was unperturbed by the debilitating lupus disease.

Lupus, a long-term autoimmune disease, did not put her down in spite of having to undergo three kidney transplants – a rare feat.

She had battled the disease for more than 20 years and shared her struggles with it in many interviews locally and internationally where she spoke about her frequent hospital visits and how she almost lost hope and gave up the fight.

Her kidneys failed in 1997 and she underwent the first transplant in 1998. 

Audience and family

In one such interview she revealed what keeps her going saying: “I think in very uncertain times, and I would give an example of being in the ocean or sea, you need certainty of purpose; and that certainty of purpose will be an anchor, something that holds you down in the middle of a storm, something that allows you remember that you can be safe, that you can move on…” And this she found in her work, in her audiences and in her family.

Lorna was extra cautious when the pandemic landed and she credited her husband who has a background in public health as having been a blessing during the Covid-19 period.

“We took precautions really early, we couldn’t go out. We have sanitisers and wear masks in the house.

I also make sure the people around me are aware of the situation and the need to protect ourselves,” she said in an interview.

“I have spent time talking to friends. We shared our fears, our good days and bad days and that has really kept me positive during these times.”

And while she kept the virus at bay at home the inevitable happened when she was in hospital awaiting a kidney transplant; she contracted the Covid-19 virus.

Her family, in a terse statement yesterday, said: “The family knows that Lorna is deeply loved by many and asks for your continued prayers and requests privacy during this difficult time but also informs that a public virtual celebration of her life will be organised and details will be communicated shortly.”

She was a former managing director with Gina Din Communication. She is survived by her husband Edwin Macharia and their daughter.

Willingness to help

She was eulogised by many Kenyans citing her kindness and her willingness to help as the main traits they will remember about her.

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir tweeted: “About 25 years ago, Lorna Irungu & I met per chance at Mombasa Airport & we fell in love with each other. We remained BFFs & she became my client since.

I begun attending all her plays at Phoenix where she was an actor. One of Kenya’s brightest people. Last month, she invited me to her house for lunch.

When I heard she went to be with the Lord today, I wept. We adored each other without reservations & without judgement on our foibles. May the Lord take her to His bosom. May Edwin be at peace.”

Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala mourned Irungu thus: “It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing on of Lorna Irungu.

Lorna was a good friend and a true professional in the media and communications field. May her soul rest in eternal peace.”

Prime news anchor Smriti Vidyarthi said, “Lorna Irungu, Rest in Peace! God bless your soul.” Jua Cali praised her crediting her with giving him his first brand endorsement with Motorola.

“I am really really saddened to hear the passing of Lorna Irungu. She is one who opened the corporate doors for me. Lorna Irungu gave me my 1st ever endorsement ‘Motorolla Brand Ambassador’ Very Sad day today. Rest with the Angels,” Jua Cali tweeted.

A twitter user by the name, KeyboySteve credited Lorna with bringing lupus to their attention and praised her for a fight well fought.

The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala also eulogised her saying, “It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing on of Lorna Irungu.

Lorna was a good friend and a true professional in the media and communications field. May her soul rest in eternal peace.”

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