Baby Travis: KNH says father, not brother, hit child with fork jembe

Judy Muthoni, 29, captured in this file photo with her son Travis Maina

Judy Muthoni, 29, captured in this file photo with her son Travis Maina (left) who died at the Kenyatta National Hospital on October 11, 2022. One of her sons hit Travis with a fork jembe in Ndula village, Thika East Kiambu.

Photo credit: Family Album

The Kenyatta National Hospital yesterday introduced a fresh twist in the saga of the death of Master Travis, who died with a fork jembe lodged in his head when the premier referral facility suggested that the boy could have been a victim of a fight involving his parents.

 This, as the hospital termed as “high level of dishonest” claims by Judy Muthoni, the baby’s mother, that she was asked for Sh20, 000 before the baby could be operated on.

Appearing before the Senate Health Committee, KNH CEO Evanson Kamuri narrated to the senators how the mother, upon learning of her son’s demise, wailed saying her husband had aimed the jembe at her.

Muthoni had initially said that Baby Travis had been hit on the head with a fork jembe by his elder sibling.

However, the CEO stated that the medics who attended to the child doubted if indeed the child was injured while playing with other children.

Wailing in distress

He called upon further investigations into the incident by an independent body to unravel the truth.

“It is an issue that requires to be investigated by another body. When we informed the woman about the death of her son, she started crying about how her baby had been killed by her husband,” Dr Kamuri told the committee. 

He went on: “The mother needs to come clean about what happened. We are very sorry for what happened but we have also been asking ourselves questions. The injury was severe and it could not have been inflicted by other children while playing.”

The injuries, Dr Kamuri said, were so severe to have been inflicted by a child. 

 “It was a severe injury that could not have been inflicted by other children while playing. That woman needs to come out clear on what exactly happened. We are very sorry for what happened but we have also been asking ourselves what happened,” he said.

The KNH boss also revealed that the hospital has an accumulated Sh7 billion in unpaid bills from treated patients who had not paid. 

Even then, he said that the hospital does not insist on payment first as opposed to saving lives first. 

 According to the KNH boss, payment is only done once the patient is discharged or succumbs.

“We never ask for money especially in cases of emergency as we focus on the patients’ survival first. Majority of my patients do not pay and even after treatment, they will not pay. As of now, we have Sh7 billion which has not been paid to the hospital,” stated Dr Kamuri.

Surgical team

 On the circumstances behind the death of Baby Travis, Dr Kamuri said the woman first took the baby to a pharmacy where she was advised to urgently seek treatment from the hospital.

 “The baby was taken to the theatre at 12.30pm and the surgical team led by Dr Boore and Dr Mwili proceeded to operate on the patient. From the amount of pus that had accumulated in the wound, we could tell that the baby had the jembe lodged in his head for much longer than what the mother had said,” the committee heard.

On negligence claims, Dr Kamuri defended the hospital explaining that the patient could not have been taken directly to the theatre as he had bled a lot and doctors needed to stabilize him first.

“We had to give him blood first. There was also the risk of cardiac arrest considering the patient was a baby and we could not give him too much blood all at once hence the process of blood transfusion had to be much slower. We could only take the child to the operating room once we were assured about his condition.

“We have CCTV cameras. You can take a look and see exactly what happened from the time the baby arrived at the hospital,” he said.

The Health Committee chairperson Jackson Mandago, during a site visit to the hospital, said they will counter-check the claims made by the mother and those of KNH before making any conclusion.

“Please share with us in case there are any lapses. This will assist in making our recommendations,” said Senator Mandago.