Naivasha family in agony after boy swallows vuvuzela cap


A young Japanese fan blows his vuvuzela as his country takes on Paraguay in a round of 16 match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, in June 2010.

Photo credit: Jewel Samad | AFP

An innocent move by a five-year-old boy to buy a vuvuzela (plastic horn) almost ended tragically after the minor swallowed a loosely fitted cap on the device.

The minor is set to undergo a second surgery at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in a fresh attempt to remove the cap that is lodged in his lungs.

On Sunday, August 20, Liam Maina Kinaga walked into a local shop and bought the Sh5 gadget that is a big hit with children his age.

He had hardly enjoyed his new toy when tragedy struck, throwing the family into an emotional roller-coaster.

The young family has incurred huge bills, with the child currently admitted at the referral facility. Nation caught up with the distraught father, Isaac Kinaga, as he printed fundraising cards that he will distribute to friends to help him pay the hospital bill that is increasing by the hour.

“We are devastated. Ever since the child was admitted, we have spent sleepless nights. His mother being inconsolable,” he said.

Both have been camping at hospital to watch over Liam, their only child, as he fights for survival, following the freak accident.

Mr Kinaga, recollecting on what transpired, said his son had gone to visit their grandmother at the sprawling Karagita Estate in the outskirts of Naivasha town.

“He asked that I give him Sh5 to buy a piece of cake which I did. Unfortunately, he settled on the vuvezela,” he said.

On several occasions, he remembered, the boy had nagged him to buy him the plastic horn, but he had declined fearing that it was unsafe for him.

“I have always been apprehensive of the horn but it is packed with some sweets to entice the young ones,” Mr Kinaga said.

He lamented that they have left to shoulder the burden of a sick son and a huge hospital bill.

Isaac Kinaga

Mr Isaac Kinaga, whose son accidentally swallowed a toy vuvuzela cap while blowing the gadget, during the interview last week.

Photo credit: Macharia Mwangi | Nation Media Group

“He was operated on for close to eight hours, but the doctors were unsuccessful in removing the plastic cap. My son has been in and out of the Intensive Care Unit and the moments have been terrifying for me and my wife,” he explained.

While still speaking to Nation during the interview, Mr Kinaga received a text message from the hospital management.

“The bill position for your patient admitted in Ward 3A is Sh244,178 as at September 1, 2023. Kindly make arrangements to settle the bill and update your NHIF [National Health Insurance Fund] card to avoid inconveniences on clinical discharge,” the SMS read in part.

Mr Kinaga said his pockets have run dry due to many errands he had to make to Nairobi, adding that he at times spends the night in the hospital corridors.

“We initially thought that the cap would easily be flushed out or perhaps our son will undergo a minor surgery, but that has not been the case,” he revealed.

Mr Kinaga, a taxi driver, questioned why agencies tasked with ensuring the safety of consumers would allow such dangerous gadgets to be sold.

“Someone is sleeping on the job and the consequences are dire. As usual, we expect knee-jerk reactions from the powers that be,” he said.

“What will happen to people like us, who are already shouldering the consequences? It is a clear case of neglect,” he fumed.

For now, he is depending on the goodwill of well-wishers to help him settle hospital bills, hopeful that his son will recover and get out of danger.

“He is scheduled to undergo the second surgery in the coming week. I am praying to God that, this time round, the doctors will succeed in removing the cap. I am keeping my fingers crossed,” Mr Kinaga said.