Why I abandoned my nine-month-old baby in hospital

Abandoned baby

Ms Mary Wangui, 21, a Nakuru woman who abandoned her nine months baby at the Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital She was speaking during an interview at her home in Mzee wa Nyama in Nakuru town east subcounty.

Photo credit: Mercy Koskei| Nation

What you need to know:

  • I approached the social workers to help talk to the management to reduce the amount or waive the bill but they told me it was impossible.
  • We do not have money; my husband is a casual labourer. 

When Mary Wangui, 21, discovered she was expectant, she could not wait for her husband's return from work in Nakuru town to share the good news.

Little did the mother of two know that this would be the beginning of unprecedented hardship.

On March 11, Ms Wangui, a resident of Mzee wa Nyama Estate in Nakuru, experienced complications characterised by severe stomach pains and bleeding.

With her husband, a casual labourer, and their nine-month-old baby by her side, they rushed to Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital at the Margaret Kenyatta Mother and Baby Wing, where she was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy that required immediate surgery.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs outside the uterus threatening the mother's life although swift treatment can prevent deadly blood loss.

“I was one month pregnant and I had to go with my daughter since we had no one to leave her with. That evening her father took her home but she cried all night, he had to return her in the morning and that’s how I ended up staying with my daughter in the hospital,” she narrated.

After a successful operation, Ms Wangui needed a three-week recovery period in the hospital's general ward. Despite their relief at her survival, the family was handed a Sh23,000 medical bill an amount they could hardly afford.

With no money to settle the bill and unable to endure the mounting pressure, Ms Wangui made a heart-wrenching decision to abandon her nine-month-old baby at the hospital.

She escaped during a lunch-hour visit relying on the kindness of friends to reach home. Her return shocked her husband, who was still figuring out how to settle the huge amount.

Ms Wangui told Nation.africa in an interview she sought help from social workers unsuccessfully. Their dire financial situation worsened as they struggled to cope with rent arrears and insufficient income from her husband's banana business.

“I approached the social workers to help talk to the management to reduce the amount or waive the bill but they told me it was impossible. We do not have money; my husband is a casual labourer. We have not paid rent for five months, the money my husband earns from selling bananas cannot sustain us,” Ms Wangui said.

The residents represented by a Mrs Mary Mbuthia said despite their efforts, the family's anguish persisted compounded by the uncertainty of their baby's whereabouts and well-being.

A visit to the hospital on Wednesday revealed the minor had been moved to a children's protection centre until the bill is settled, with the family finding itself caught between despair and a bleak future.

At the facility they were informed they should visit the Nakuru Showground police post where the matter was reported.

“I just explained to the officer what happened and they sent us back to the hospital. The bill was increasing daily and yet I had no one to help. I decided to take the bold move of abandoning my child at the hospital so that I could go look for money. Since then, I have been having problems. I cannot sleep, and I do not know which centre she was taken to. She was still breastfeeding,” Ms Wangui said.

Dr James Waweru, the medical superintendent of Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital said the facility took the necessary steps to ensure the welfare of the child.

Dr Waweru explained that the hospital handed over the matter to the children’s department for proper action. He said the facility could not release the baby to just anyone claiming it, hence the involvement of the children’s department.

"We handed over the matter to the children’s department. It is a serious case under them. They took the baby. They need to assess whether the family can take care of that child. They have that capacity," the medic said.