The father of a former student of The Co-Operative Academy has movingly spoken today about his son’s death.
Usman Mohammed died on January 25, aged 19, following a battle with kidney failure and bowel cancer.
He was born with kidney failure, but was not diagnosed until 18-months-old. “By then, the damage was done”, Usman’s dad, Mohammed Zaheer, of Burslem, said.
“He started having dialysis at age seven. We were in and out of Birmingham Children’s Hospital until he was 12 years old.”
Mohammed said the worst part of Usman’s life was the fluid restriction. He was only allowed 450ml of fluid a day, which included any fluid in food.
“That was really hard, having him in hospital. He had peritonitis one time, he wasn’t allowed to be fed water or food for 22 days. His skin started to peel off because of it.”
At age 12, Usman had a kidney transplant. “From there, things got a bit better”, he added, “he was happy.”
Usman got married at 18, his Dad described it as “the happiest day of his life”.
Just five months later, Usman was diagnosed with cancer. “It was so difficult, but we had hope. Hope kept us going, and we just kept thinking that there was a chance.”
Mohammed tells us Usman had said, ”Even though I had an ill childhood, I had the best childhood I could have had.”
Usman had aspirations to own his own business like his father, and be independent and strong.
He also wanted to raise money to build clean water wells in third world countries.
This came about as a result of his fluid restriction. He told his father that he “knows what it’s like to have water, but not be able to drink it.” He was concerned about the people that needed water but did not have it available.
Usman had begun to raise money to build wells in Africa and for refugees, but since his death, his family has continued his charity work.
Their goal is to raise as much money as possible, to build as many wells as they can. Mohammed even wants to help build one himself. He said ‘in our religion, the best you can do for someone who has passed away is his charity.”
So far, the JustGiving page has raised almost £2000 and today, The Co-Operative Academy added over £1300 to that total.
Marie Cunningham, Head of Student Services at the academy, helped get the school involved with fundraising.
She said: “Once someone has come to this school, they will always be a part of our community. We are just really passionate about supporting it. Usman was a part of our community and always will be.
“We struggled to come up with a fundraising idea that was original at first. We know that Usman was really into football, so we got in touch with some local football teams to see if they could donate. Stoke City, Port Vale and even Manchester United were amazing and sent us lots of signed goodies to raffle off.”
Comms Manager, Daryl Tomlinson, at The Co-Operative Academy organised a football festival.
“Marie came to us to tell us Usman was poorly and about the donation page. I suggested a football tournament for local schools and other Co-Operative Academies.
“Me and a few other teachers put together this idea of the football festival.
“I never met Usman, but just speaking to members of staff who had, he was obviously a student who was very well liked and very well respected. ”
See the video below for more: