When the pain and weakness in her right leg started immediately after the birth of her firstborn child five months ago, Evaline Wairimu was uncertain what awaited her.
Wairimu thought it was just normal pain — that's until the 23-year-old could not take it anymore and an X-Ray was done.
To her disbelief, it showed a curved broken needle embedded in her.
The Nation.Africa met her at Maragua Hospital seated in the company of her relatives some minutes before she was wheeled to theatre for her third surgery as they attempted to remove it.
She says it has been five months of excruciating pain after the medical error after the birth of her son in March.
“My trouble started at Kirwara Level 4 [Hospital] in Gatanga Constituency, Murang'a County where I had gone to deliver. It was a normal delivery and as the doctor was stitching me up after a tear, the needle broke…bringing nothing but pain in my life for the next few months,” Ms Wairimu said, trying to put on a brave face.
“I developed mysterious pain that would not go away. It would make walking and sleeping a very painful affair so I would end up sitting throughout the night,” she said.
At first, she thought it might stem from the wound after birth. After months of suffering unexplained pain, she was “horrified” at what she saw in the X-Ray image.
“When the pain persisted, I went to Thika Level 5 Hospital and had X-Rays and CT [Scan done] and that's when I discovered the truth. I had a broken needle inside me,” Ms Wairimu said, trying to fight tears.
She has now been in hospital for two weeks, and has undergone three surgeries.
Her son Liam is brought to her every day, all the way from Kihumbu-ini to Maragua, more than 20 Kilometres daily, so that she can breastfeed him.
“The hospital told me that I can't have him in the hospital as he is not sick, saying they were fearing that he can get infections if he stays in the hospital with me,” Ms Wairimu explained.
So, where did the needle come from?
“The needle that the doctor was using to stitch me broke into two and she said she couldn't find the piece. She tried looking for it and when she couldn't find it, she said it had probably gone out with the blood as I bleeding,” the distraught lady explained.
On Wednesday, Evaline was wheeled into the theatre for her third surgery, hopeful that the broken needle will be removed, and after two hours, she was taken back to the ward, a dejected patient, after the doctors failed to remove the needle.
According to her sister Caroline Nyambura, the doctors said the needle had moved deeper in her and was near her bladder and any wrong move would cause more damage, thus they had to consult wider.
The family is blaming Kirwara hospital for negligence, accusing the institution of trying to hide the error. The family says the medical staff did not report it after it was brought to their attention two weeks ago.
“After the X-Ray, we went to Kirwara to show them the damage they had done. They took her to the theatre, tried to remove it but were unsuccessful. They referred her to Maragua and the first doctor tried but was also unsuccessful. Now she has been taken to the theatre again and they have been unable to get it out,” Ms Nyambura said.
She says their prayer is for the broken needle to be removed so that Wairimu can live pain free and enjoy her motherhood journey. The family urged medical practitioners to be humane and keen when doing their job.
Ms Wairimu’s cousin Boniface Mburu said the issue has taken a huge toll on the young mother and the whole family.
“The kid lives with me. We have been forced to wean the kid early because when he wakes up at night hungry, we give him milk, Weetabix and yoghurt yet the baby is supposed to breastfeed exclusively for six months,” he said.
Ms Wairimu is also forced to express milk for the baby even when she is in pain, he added.
The family has called for justice, saying that someone has to be held accountable for the needle and to cover the costs of the surgeries she has undergone.
Murang'a Health Executive Fredrick Mbugua told Nation.Africa the issue has been brought to their attention and investigations are ongoing to establish what transpired.
“Once investigations are complete, we will take the necessary action,” he said.
Dr Mbugua added that the popularity and accessibility of free healthcare courtesy of Kang’ataCare has led to an increase in the number of patients visiting facilities, even as medical personnel endeavour to provide the best care for all patients.