‘Hospital’s lack of oxygen cost MP Justus Murunga his life’

Justus Murunga

Matungu MP Justus Murunga who collapsed and died on November 14, 2020 aged 59.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • With desperation creeping, the family moved him to St Mary’s Mission Hospital, about 10 kilometres away.
  • Throughout the day, Murunga had been meeting visitors and even had lunch with some of them while discussing development issues in the constituency.

Matungu MP Justus Murunga’s life could have been saved had there been medical oxygen at the local hospital, the Nation has learnt.

When he collapsed just before dinner with breathing difficulties at his Makunda rural home on Saturday night, relatives rushed him to Matungu Sub-county Hospital in Kakamega County. But as Murunga was gasping for air, the hospital decided not to admit him because it had no oxygen. 

With desperation creeping, the family moved him to St Mary’s Mission Hospital, about 10 kilometres away. In the 20-minute drive, the MP’s condition deteriorated. He was admitted to the casualty department where doctors and nurses made frantic efforts to resuscitate him. Unfortunately, Murunga — who had diabetes and hypertension — did not make it.

Throughout the day, Murunga had been meeting visitors and even had lunch with some of them while discussing development issues in the constituency. At about 7.30pm, his wife Christabel prepared the dinner table.

As Murunga and two close relatives walked up the stairs, he stumbled and nearly fell as he gasped for air. This is when relatives began desperate efforts to save his life.

“Had our hospital been well equipped, our brother could have been saved. We lost him between Matungu and St Mary’s hospitals. It’s really sad. Hopefully, facilities will improve going forward,” said his younger brother Henry Washiswa.

His sudden death comes as big shock to residents. Relatives said the MP had just been discharged from Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu where he had been admitted due to chest pains. Last year, he also spent some time in a Mombasa hospital due to diabetes and hypertension.

Chest pains

“When he came out of hospital, he never had any complications until he complained of chest pains,” said Mr Washiswa. A close aide said medical reports had indicated that the MP died of diabetes and hypertension and not Covid-19.

Born in 1961, Murunga attended Kimilili Boys Primary before he joined Kamusinga Boys. He later studied accounts at the Kaimosi Technical Training College. He took up further studies at the People’s Commercial College in Nakuru for a CPA1 certificate.

After his studies, he got a job at Embakasi Ranching Company in Nairobi where he worked shortly before joining Mumias Sugar Company. He later started his own businesses before joining politics.

“He first unsuccessfully contested a ward seat in Nairobi in 2002 before deciding to vie for a position at home. In 2007 and 2013, he lost the Matungu parliamentary seat but won it in 2017,” said Mr Washiswa. On Saturday, Murunga appeared jovial and even supervised the construction of a water tank in his home.

“He had spent the whole day receiving visitors who came to wish him well and quick recovery. He was in a jovial mood and gave us hope that he was getting better,” said Mr Athman Wangara.

Lee Funeral Home

His body spent Saturday night at the St Mary’s Hospital mortuary before it was moved to Lee Funeral Home in Nairobi on Sunday. Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali said they were to hand over the body to the Parliamentary Service Commission so it can take over the funeral arrangements: “I am coordinating with the clerks of the Senate and National Assembly to ensure that he gets a befitting sendoff.”

“We have received so many questions concerning the cause of his death, but I cannot comment because we have not received any information from both Aga Khan and St Mary’s hospitals,” he added.

He Murunga’s widow Christabel had told him that results of the Covid-19 test taken from her husband had not been released by the time he died.

Mr Washiali, who spent the night at the morgue alongside former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, eulogised Murunga as a close personal friend who knew no boundaries in terms of leadership.

Other leaders who reached the mortuary included Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua and Bumula MP Mwambu Mabonga.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.