Delivery negligence
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What killed my wife? Corporal Michael Ngeywa demands justice for wife’s death after delivery

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Michael Ngeywa holding a portrait of his deceased wife. 

Photo credit: Courtesy

Police corporal Michael Ngeywa has been a distressed man since his wife’s sudden demise three years ago while giving birth.

Memories of the fateful April 3, 2021 day remain in his mind. There are so many questions but he has no answers yet. It is the reason Ngeywa is determined to find justice for what he believes was his wife’s premature death due to medical negligence.

On that tragic day, his wife of nine years Isabella Wakoli, a former employee at Toyota Kenya had arrived at an Eldoret hospital at 7.30 am with labour pains. It was a moment of expectation for the family as Ms Wakoli would soon be undergoing her third delivery.

As it would turn out, however, the family’s joy was short-lived. Just 21 hours later, at 5.11 am, Ms Wakoli had been declared dead as per the nursing notes in our possession.

Ngeywa, then based in Laikipia would receive the devastating news of the untimely demise of his wife and immediately embark on the long and tormenting journey to Eldoret.

To him, his wife’s death was mysterious and he had many questions, but the answers he received on arrival at the Eldoret hospital did not just make sense to him.

A doctor in charge of the delivery section of the hospital told him that his wife had successfully given birth to one of the twins she was expecting under normal delivery, and the second baby through a caesarean procedure.

What does not make sense to him is that Isabella, 38, had died in a hospital barely 150 metres away from the North Rift regional blood bank at the heart of Eldoret town.

“By the time I arrived at the hospital, my late wife’s body had been moved to the mortuary,” he tells Nation.Africa in an interview this week at his home in Lagamet Village, Trans Nzoia County.

Ngeywa was informed that one of the twins, was alive and the other in critical condition. According to Ngeywa, however, the doctor gave him contradictory information, telling him that one of the twins had died, yet all of them were alive,” a disturbed Ngeywa said.

“It was confusing because I knew both newborns were all alive and the doctor who delivered them was informing me that one had passed on. The sick child had been referred to another hospital for advanced treatment. From that information, I discovered that the doctor may not have attended to my wife and that the deceased might have been neglected,” he narrated to Nation.Africa, his mind drifting back to that moment of confusion.

Medical negligence

Police corporal Michael Ngeywa at the grave where his wife Isabela Wakoli was buried. Ms Wakoli was buried on May 26, 2021. 

Photo credit: Titus Ominde| NMG

He is yet to find closure after his wife’s demise and wants to know why she died of bleeding inside a hospital, without receiving any help.

Ngeywa says his quest to get satisfactory answers from the private health facility on his wife’s demise and the confusion about the conflicting reports about the twins did not bear fruit, and it is the reason he decided to take the complaint to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council mid-last year.

“It has been close to two years since I took the case to KMPDC, but the council has not responded,” Ngeywa laments.

A year after his wife’s death, and without any response from the hospital, Ngeywa wrote to the health facility again, this time through a lawyer. The response was that his wife bled to death in a hospital ward after the caesarean delivery.

The hospital had noted in response that before the caesarean procedure was conducted, Isabella’s blood level was low and she had required transfusion before the operation.

“When I informed the doctor that my child was alive, he was surprised and left to find out from the nurse and that gave me the impression that he had left my wife and the newborns under the care of the nurses and was not present at the delivery. I was also told the hospital had no blood when my wife bled and died calling for help,” he told Nation.Africa.

KMPDC wrote to the hospital seeking an explanation for Mr Ngeywa’s complaints, and he made a follow-up on October 22, 2022, through the family lawyer.

The council raised seven issues that it wanted the hospital to respond to; namely, medical negligence that is suspected to have led to the death, mismanagement of a patient with twin pregnancy, mismanagement of a patient who had a reactive health condition, administering surgery to a patient with low blood count, failure to control haemorrhaging, medical negligence of infant leading to infection and failing to monitor infants’ oxygen level at birth.

Contacted for comment over the claims, however, the hospital’s chief administrator in charge of human resources Hidris Khata claimed the hospital was not aware of Mr Ngeywa’s claims, but said it had received the letter from KMPDC and forwarded it to its lawyer for further direction.

Michael Ngeywa, a police officer, with his wife days before her admission for delivery of twins.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“We are aware of this matter and the letter from KMPDC, and we have already handed the matter to our lawyer for legal direction,” said Mr Khata.

On the other hand, the deceased family’s lawyer Joseph Oyaro laments that their efforts to get a response from the hospital have been futile. Mr Oyaro said they have written several letters to the hospital without any response.

“As a lawyer representing the family we have written several letters to the hospital but they have remained silent,” he claimed.

Treatment documents obtained from the hospital by the family, including recorded notes by a nurse named Kimani indicated that the patient started bleeding at 11 pm. During the period, the nurse recorded the doctor was informed on the phone and prescribed some medications, awaiting a procedure the following day at 8 am. According to the nursing report, the patient gasped for air at 4.50 am and called for help from the casualty department.

Other records in the file indicated that the HB level (blood level) was 9.3 gm/dl, which meant the patient was anaemic. According to the nurse’s notes, efforts to resuscitate the patient were unsuccessful and she died at 5.11 am.

According to a medical expert doctor Abraham Rop, this may have made the late Wakoli’s condition a high-risk pregnancy, that should have been accorded close attention by a gynaecologist. Mr Rop said blood transfusion and stoppage of bleeding would have been done before or immediately after the caesarean delivery.

On March 23, 2022, Mr Ngeywa, through his lawyer wrote to the facility threatening to take legal action if it failed to admit liability within seven days.

The facility responded to the letter on April 6, 2022, through its lawyer Nyairo and Company, saying: “Our client denies any negligence on their part and therefore denies liability.”

The distraught widower says he has made several phone calls to KMPDC seeking to know why his case has taken so long to resolve.

“I have been subjected to frustration in the quest for justice for my late wife and children. Isabella (Wakoli) left me with four children, including the twins. My case has faced many unexplained delays,” he said.

A KMPDC letter to the doctor and the health facility in question indicated the matter as case Number 86 of 2022.

The letter dated October 26, 2022, says Ngeywa had brought to the council complaints concerning medical negligence leading to death, mismanagement of a patient and a twin pregnancy, failing to prevent and control haemorrhaging, and administering surgery to a patient with low blood count, among other issues.

A comprehensive statement responding to the allegations and the patient’s file was among the documents sought by the council in the letter.

Following the incident, Eldoret-based human rights activist Dancun Arum, a human rights defender at Unity of Love Foundation has indicated an intention to petition the Senate if KMPDC continues delaying to compel the hospital to respond.

Mr Arum wants KMPDC to release its findings to enable Ngeywa to find closure for his wife’s death and justice for the family for her untimely demise.