Man demands answers over wife’s death during birth

Wanjiku death

Carolyne Wanjiku, 23, who died at Maragua Level Four hospital on March 16 while giving birth through Caesarian section.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri I Nation Media Group

On March 15, Isaac Kagoiya tearfully remembers how he escorted his wife to the matatu termini as she was being taken to Maragua Level Four hospital in Murang’a County to deliver their second born child.

“Babe, it’s just a matter of a few hours and I will come back with our baby girl. Keep safe and be there to receive me out of the labour ward,” he recalls the last words his wife uttered to him.

But it never worked as the two lovebirds hoped…for Carolyne Wanjiku 23, on March 16, at noon, did not wake up when she was sedated to deliver through caesarian section.

Questions without answers, he says, whirled around his mind as he attempted to reflect on the four years they had known each other, one of them as man and wife.

He says he would have loved to know what exactly killed his wife…what exactly went wrong for a woman who had no known health condition apart from the pregnancy itself.

“It was the onset of my pain…I could not believe that I was a widower at only 26 years of age. More complicated was the fact that our child survived the mother’s death. My wife never woke up to see our baby. The sadness that is in me is so profound,” Mr Kagoiya said.

He says he broke down when his mother and mother in-law who had gone to wait for his baby to be born broke the bad news to him.

 “I started imagining myself in the burial of my sweetheart. Trying to tell our three-year old son what was happening and why his mother’s photo was on top of a casket…Worse still, the task ahead of telling my daughter who came to life as her mother left life…why none of them ever saw the other,” he said.

Mr Kagoiya’s life had suddenly become stranger than the one his daughter had come into.

“But I braved myself…put on a brave face and braced myself for the life ahead…At least, life had to go on. I wanted my baby to go home and start the tedious duty of bringing it up,” he said.

He was mistaken since the hospital refused to hand it over saying it would be a process.

“My relatives and friends were advised to form a small committee to engage the hospital in dialogue about the issue. We were told that my wife’s system refused to handle the sedative dose. The hospital’s representative in the meeting said they were sorry… said it happens,” he said.

Back home

With no option, a man who had anticipated welcoming back home a wife and a newborn, walked into the hollowness of mourning.

 “There are so many who told me to sue the hospital over negligence. Others told me to demand an investigation into how my wife died. They said the procedure that was used to administer the sedative, its type and dosage could be audited. But I had no idea how it happens,” he said.

It was in that confusion that Mr Kagoiya bid his time; his clan came together and planned for the March 24 burial ceremony at their Maria-ini village in Kandara Sub-County.

There was a commotion at the Maragua Level Four hospital mortuary as mourners demanded the release of the baby that was still in the custody of the hospital.

The commotion saw Maragua police station dispatch five police officers to manage the situation since there were those who were agitating to break into the hospital in search of the baby.

The hospital management referred Nation.Africa to area Assistant County Commissioner (ACC) who it said was coordinating amicable settlement of all matters arising from the case.

 “It became a security issue and I personally ordered for an emergency meeting with the hospital and the family representatives. It was then that it came to our notice about the grave incident at hand,” said the ACC Mr Joshua Okello.

Mr Okello added that there was no report available from the hospital indicating how the patient died.

“There was also no postmortem report about the body since the family did not recommend it done. It was odd yes…But the family decided to bury the body first and engage in talks later,” he said.

Mr Okello said he offered to mediate the conflict “and so far we have resolved that the hospital will release the baby to the father”.

But he said there are conditions attached since “we must get proof that the baby will be safe and will be subject to constant monitoring by the children department”.

Mr Okello said that “we must also train somebody from the family for about three days on how to prepare powder milk for the baby as well as on how to pursue the necessary vaccinations and clinics for the kid”.

The administrator said while it remains a matter of great interest on how the mother met her demise and the absence of a postmortem report “the doors for revisiting are not closed since there is the law”.

Mr Kagoiya appealed for legal help to help him and his family get answers for the mystery “since we would love a closure to the suspicions around the death”.

He said his family’s lack of knowledge on how this kind of crisis is handled has left them only engaging in unstructured debates that would love to get answers but with no ability to pursue the hospital to provide them.

“I only heard that it was either an overdose of something in the surgery or use of a sedative already removed from practice…Those are the titbits we collected. The hospital advised us to forego the postmortem since it was expensive,” he said.

Mr Okello said the family can pursue the matter through the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPD).