At 4.55pm on May 9 at Membley Estate in Kiambu County, Charity Kirigo, 47, hugged her only child, Eric Mwaura, 17, who had an appointment with his doctor at Kenol Hospital in Murang'a County.
"Mama, even God knows you only have me ... I will be back tomorrow morning. Everything will be fine and always remember that you are my other god," she recalls her son telling her.
Mwaura was a Form Four student at Kanunga High School in Kiambu County and while playing football, he had fallen on the pitch on May 7, 2022, spraining his left hand. He was rushed to Kenol Hospital where he underwent surgery for an implant to hold the bone together.
The doctor told him that the plate would be removed after a year. They day for the removal had come and he was on his way to the hospital.
Kirigo says: "A certain hollowness engulfed me as he left our living room and a feeling of nausea attacked me to the point where I felt dizzy.
She says she did not understand the source of the feeling.
"At around 5.30pm I called my son and he immediately picked up... I asked him if he had already boarded a vehicle to Kenol town — a distance of about 32km — and he confirmed that he was on his way in a public service vehicle," she says.
She remembers the last words she heard from her son before he died the next morning: "Mum, stop worrying. It hurts to hear you worry. Everything will be fine, it is not my head or my heart they are operating on ... it is just a hand. Trust in God, everything will be fine, see you tomorrow, because my phone is going to die any minute now, the battery is low."
The phone died because later attempts to contact him were unsuccessful. Mwaura died the following day at 9.54am.
"Put yourself in my shoes and imagine that my heart is yours ... You are a woman of 47, your only child is dead and the circumstances are as strange as that death. What would you do?" Kirigo ask Nation.Africa.
The mother's nightmare began at 9am on May 10 as she prepared to collect her son from the hospital.
“The evil had refused to leave me. Before I left, I called my son's phone. It was off. I called his doctor, Mr Amos Wairegi, and after several rings he answered it ... He told me that everything was fine. He asked me where I was and I told him I was leaving the house. He told me to hurry," she recalls.
A few minutes later, as she was driving to the hospital, the doctor called and asked her where she was.
“I replied that I was halfway there. He told me that he had finished operating on my son's hand but there was a problem. It is as if my son had reacted negatively to the medicine and developed breathing difficulties and was on oxygen. I asked what the connection was between a hand and oxygen and I was told to just arrive and it would be explained," she says.
When she arrived, she found about 10 of the hospital employees waiting for her.
“I did not need an explanation, it was written on their faces and I immediately realised that I was the mother of a dead child. The pain ... the shock ... the confusion, and I fainted," she says.
An official incident report from Kenol Hospital, dated May 10, states that "the patient, registered as KHL-30911, underwent the procedure to remove the implant, which had six screws holding it together, under general anaesthesia".
The report adds that the anaesthesia was reversed and the patient was taken to the recovery room, but one hour after the operation he suddenly collapsed and resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.
“The patient was pronounced dead at 0954 hours on May 10," the report signed by Dr Wairegi concludes.
Kirigo was resuscitated and she called several family members and friends.
An impromptu meeting resolved that the death immediately be treated as suspect and should be investigated.
The group went to the nearby Kenol police station and recorded a complaint. Police took over the matter and went to remove the body from the hospital to Montezuma Monalisa mortuary.
“More pain awaited me since the hospital refused to release the body unless I paid a bill of Sh80,000 that included Sh19, 000 for the anaesthetist,” she laments.
On May 15, Dr Peter Ndegwa conducted a post-mortem on Mwaura’s body and he formed an opinion that the cause of death was acute respiratory failure.
He explained that anaesthesia made Mwaura to secrete excess fluids that flooded his lungs and made him experience difficulty in breathing. He summed up the crisis as “post anaesthesia complications”.
As the search for justice for Mwaura continues, his mother mourns him as “well cultured aspiring architect who made my life worth living, as I worked hard to secure his present and the future”.
Kirigo has sought the services of a lawyer and says she is drafting an official complaint to the medical board.