So long Adisa... Family, friends bid final bye to bubbly ‘Daktari’

Doreen Adisa Lugaliki

Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, who died on July 10, 2020.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The two sisters talked about death openly. “We knew the drill upon the death of either of us,” Carol writes in her tribute.
  • Coronavirus would not allow her to accord her cherished sister her burial wish.

Last Monday at a Nairobi estate, three siblings sat chatting and cracking jokes as they usually did, reminiscing the good old times and discussing current affairs.

One of them, though, had developed an uncomfortable cold and amid the chatting, her siblings advised her to get checked for Covid-19.

They set off for the Aga Khan University Hospital and after some checks, Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki was admitted after being diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which came as a surprise to her as she had no idea that she had the condition.

Her siblings kept her company for while and left at around 6am as she was being taken into isolation. By that time, she was having difficulties breathing, although her oxygen levels were okay. The next few days would turn into a roller-coaster for the Lugalikis as her condition worsened.


On Tuesday night, she was admitted into the High Dependency Unit, discharged Wednesday morning and taken back to isolation on Wednesday afternoon after developing breathing complications and later transferred to the ICU at around 5pm.

She never came out of the coma, even though the AKUH medical team worked frantically round the clock to save her. She succumbed to complications arising from Covid-19 in the early hours of Friday.

A brilliant, selfless, dedicated consultant obstetrician, Dr Lugaliki became the first doctor in Kenya die of Covid-19. Her demise came at the peak of her career, barely two months after she celebrated her 38th birthday.

Naturally full of life, at the casualty, she was overly chatty, her sister says, and very optimistic that she would make it out alive, even though she was weak. Before her condition became critical, she had teased her then-tensed brother, jokingly asking him to cry as he would do if she died. They laughed.

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Public health officers carry the casket bearing the remains of Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki at her parent’s home in Ndalu, Bungoma County, on July 13, 2020. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

“We had unfinished business, Ady. The twins… your worst fear was not having to raise them… you said they were the reason behind your toil,” her sister, Carol, penned down in her tribute. As condolences and tributes trickled in, they depicted a young woman with a loving and kind heart, who was impacting and touching many lives in the health sector.


“I walked into your clinic as a patient and walked out as a friend... she was one amazing person. Very supportive and encouraging,” one of her patients said in a post on social media. Her funeral service at the Nairobi South Hospital was full of accolades. Her pleasant personality was a constant, right from her days in school and college where her former mates described her so.

Her former schoolmate at Moi Girls High School Eldoret, Ms Apondi Odhiambo, described her as a natural-born leader: “She walked with determination and knew exactly what she wanted. She was bound to change the society.”

 “She was a beautiful soul. You see the elegance in her photos that was her daily since our undergraduate days. Daktari with eight-inch heels daily, with good hair and with a big laugh. Always walked so confidently, always talked to all,” her medical colleague and former collegemate Suzanne wrote.

Her dedication and love for her job was not lost on her family either as she would put aside everything else to attend to her duties whenever she was called upon.

She paid the costly price for her dedication and sacrifice, and her family, friends and medical fraternity have been left processing the pain.

To her parents, she was “daktari” — the family doctor and great advisor to her siblings, she was the amazing sister with whom they shared an unbreakable bond. With her sister Carol, they had plans, and dreamt of growing old together to play with their grandchildren. They had a trip planned for the Caribbean when they turned 60. It will never be.


The two sisters talked about death openly. “We knew the drill upon the death of either of us,” Carol writes in her tribute.

“The one who would go first would ensure a number of things; you were to wear a beautiful white gown, rest at Lee Funeral Home and have your make up excellently done. We were to be in no hurry to bury you. We were to take at least 10 days before we laid you to rest. We were to mourn you the Maragoli style with Isukuti… to dance to reggae and preferably get some nice mix from DJ Mo. That is how you were to exit. Not like this. I am sorry Ady,” penned Carol in her tribute to her most cherished sister.

Coronavirus would not allow her to accord her cherished sister her burial wish. Always jovial and the life of the party, she loved keeping her family close and hosting them at her home for get-togethers.

The weekend before her demise, she called her siblings to her house for one such meeting, only this time, it turned out that it was for goodbyes.

She had recently renovated her terrace for hosting parties. But on at their last get-together, she had not left her bedroom as the cold got the better of her. She chose instead to keep her distance.

Just recently, she had her latest family photo shoot, but unknown to any of them, it would be the last.

Born on May 15, 1982, sunset came knocking unexpectedly to the fourth-born daughter in a family of eight.

And, at dawn today, her family embarks on the journey to their Ndalu, Bungoma County home, to lay her to rest. She leaves behind a set of 11-year-old twins.