What you need to know:
- They accuse the authorities of inaction, and with the waning possibility of ever getting justice, Daniel and his wife can only pin their hopes on divine interventions to help them unite with their son, even if it means meeting later in life.
A couple who had their baby swapped at birth at Pumwani Maternity Hospital are still demanding justice, five years on.
Cash-strapped Daniel Githui Karare and his wife, Consolata Mumbi, are staring at a waning justice process and reeling from the trauma of knowing “their child is somewhere.”
Worryingly, even with all the evidence at the disposition of the authorities bringing to the fore the behind-the-scenes baby theft at the hospital, as of now, the dejected couple do not know whether their case is on or stalled, or “if some powers that be” are involved in slowing the process.
Their baby, whom they wanted to name after his grandfather, would be five years old. But Daniel and Consolata have never set their eyes on their child and can’t help but imagine how parenting their firstborn would have been. They only came too close to holding the baby, whom they believed was a son, until they could not any longer.
The couple had always planned to be wonderful parents, and the possibility had hovered closer after they married, and it finally felt within reach until it was not. While the exact memories of the delivery day may be beginning to become faint, between them now sits five years of “being in our thoughts,” imaginations, and, helplessly, nothing much.
As all expectant parents do, they walked into a hospital, only for their hopes to be deflated when they were handed a cold and already dead infant.
On the night of January 20, 2018, Consolata walked into the theatre, ready to walk out of the facility holding her bundle of joy. Their child was to be born via a caesarean section. Her husband paced the corridors of the maternity ward, all the while hoping for the end and the good news from the doctors inside the theatre room. But the end of the process marked the beginning of their long struggle and quest to see their baby.
They were instead handed a cold, dead baby. The medics said it was a case of a stillbirth. A narrative they did not buy. Instinctively, the father-to-be declined to sign the pieces of paper handed over to them. The mother, however, while under duress, signed the papers. Two doctors presented papers to her, and coerced her to append her signature on them, she narrated.
Discontented, the couple sought a DNA test, and the findings confirmed one of their greatest fears while vindicating them. It took the efforts of the Office of the Ombudsman (Commission on Administrative Justice) to get them the DNA results after waiting for excruciatingly long.
“Based on the findings, Consolata Mumbi and Daniel Githui are excluded as biological mother and father to baby Consolata Mumbi,” a government analyst said of the samples analysed.
The revelation awakened a tragedy that he knew would eventually change everything. And sure, he says, life never remained the same. That someone may be raising the child thinking the baby is theirs is not only heartbreaking but also traumatic, he says.
“No day has passed without thinking about my child,” Daniel tells the Saturday Nation.
Knowing that your child is out there, and helplessly waiting for fate to reunite the two of you is as quirky as it is unimaginable, he shares. The fantasy scenario might be that the two, now or later in life, will meet. But the how and when they will is the bother.
“Wherever you are, may the heavens unite us,” a teary Daniel says.
The lifeless baby they declined was taken to the City Mortuary. Pumwani Maternity Hospital claimed they did not have a mortuary and could not swap the couple’s baby. Yet, when Daniel visited the mortuary, he realised the baby in question had been booked 10 days after the incident.
Given the contested ownership, the couple cannot see the child unless by a police order. The last time they saw the dead baby was “during the collection of samples for DNA analysis”, Daniel says.
On the cold slab of the mortuary, the baby they were handed lies unclaimed. And will remain so, until a court order settles the matter.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) waded into the matter.
The correspondence between Pumwani Maternity Hospital and KMPDU seen by the Saturday Nation, however, reveals an error that was either coincidental or by design.
The doctor and the nurses in their letters captured a different patient’s number from what the anaesthetist captured. The patient’s reference number as captured by the anaesthetist “is the correct number”, the couple say.
“This is to report that I received the above-named patient (Daniel’s wife)” is the common line in the medics’ reports. But how they attended to the same patient at the same time but with different “IP numbers” is questionable.
The documents in our possession also indicate that the time of birth was 6.30am. Daniel recalls he was called into the theatre at 7am, only to be handed “a very cold baby whose umbilical cord had dried already”, and that was the first red flag he noted.
Inasmuch as the rate at which the cooling of the body after death occurs depends on the temperature differential between the body and the environment, an evaluation of temperature data during the final stages of life shows that it takes 12 hours for a human body to be cool to the touch and 24 hours to cool to the core.
As a general rule, the body cools at a rate of about 0.8 degrees Celsius per hour during the first 12 hours. And, rigor mortis, a medical term for the stiffening of joints and muscles, commences after three hours and lasts until 36 hours after death.
When it was apparent that the couple were expecting a son, they bought newborn toys and clothes, among other paraphernalia. In the days after the ordeal, they had to give out some of the things they bought because “they always reminded us of the baby that was swapped.”
In pursuit of justice, the couple have sought in vain the assistance of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). In a letter received by the ODPP on September 27, 2019, Daniel asked for legal representation or advice.
“We were told that theirs is to prosecute and that they were not even aware of our case,” Daniel says. And that was the last update on the progress the government ever told them.
With the passing days, the couple worry that the case is growing cold and only wonder if they will ever get justice in the land of the living. “May God keep our son alive for our sake,” Daniel says.