'Baby Travis died because I'm poor': A mother’s pain after child's slow, agonizing death
What you need to know:
- One of her three boys hit his youngest brother, Travis Maina, aged two and a half years, with a fork jembe and it ended up firmly lodged in the head, eventually leading to his death.
- Muthoni blames the death of her son on negligence by doctors and nurses at KNH.
- KNH has denied claims that there was negligence on its part, saying it acted swiftly to save the situation.
Judy Muthoni, 29, sits pensively on a wooden chair opposite her one-roomed mud-walled house inside what looks like a small, struggling village at Ndula village, Thika East, in Kiambu County.
She breaks down every time she is asked about the events of Monday this week, when one of her three boys hit his youngest brother, Travis Maina, aged two and a half years, with a fork jembe and it ended up firmly lodged in the head, eventually leading to his death.
“My son was talking all through. His last request was water,” says Muthoni, her face lined in grief.
Maina was playing with his two brothers aged eight and six years when the accident happened.
The three were playing under a mango tree just outside their house when their uncle Hussein Njau heard a scream from one of the older boys, who said Travis had been hit on the head.
''I jumped on a motorbike and rushed Maina to Ndula Dispensary, but unfortunately, nothing was happening there, since Monday was a public holiday. So we sought help from a local doctor who owns a pharmacy in the area. He detached the long wooden handle from the fork jembe so that we could fit in his small car, and he then rushed us to Thika Level 5 Hospital,” Njau tells the Daily Nation yesterday at the scene of the accident.
The boys’ mother was not at home when Travis got hurt. She was called and later joined Njau and her son at the hospital.
Ndula is a remote village, with no public transport to and from the Nairobi-Garissa highway, and most of the residents are casual labourers at fruit juice processor Del Monte.
The lack of public transport makes it very hard for villagers to get instant healthcare in case of an emergency.
Referred to KNH
At the Thika hospital, doctors told the family that they lacked specialised equipment to handle the case and referred them to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi.
''Thika Level 5 Hospital administered first aid to my son and later called an ambulance that took us to Kenyatta National Hospital. We arrived at Kenyatta at 6.35 pm. We were asked to pay Sh1,260, which my sister Lucy Wambui paid,” Muthoni says, just a day after her son died.
''After paying the amount, we were told to pay an additional Sh20,500 that we told them we could not raise and after we failed to raise the amount, we spent Monday night and part of Tuesday morning at the Casualty, where my son died while waiting to be admitted and taken to the theatre in the afternoon,” the mother explains.
The financial situation of Ms Muthoni is evident; at six years old, her second-born son is yet to join pre-primary school.
She tells the Nation her casual job earns her Sh300 a day, and it is not consistent.
Muthoni blames the death of her son on negligence by doctors and nurses at KNH.
''I blame them for the death of my son. They were more concerned about me raising Sh20,500 to secure a bed than saving my son. I paid the price for being poor. My son was talking all through. His last request was water. I watched my son die because I did not have money. From Monday evening to Tuesday afternoon (we were) at Kenyatta National Hospital Casualty without being admitted.”
Denied negligence claims
KNH has denied claims that there was negligence on its part, saying it acted swiftly to save the situation.
“The patient arrived at Kenyatta National Hospital at 6.30 pm but the circumstances and timing of the injury remained unclear. He was received at the Accident and Emergency Department and our team, including the consultant neurosurgeons, immediately commenced treatment and investigations to determine the safest management approach.
“At Kenyatta National Hospital ... the patient was received in the critical care unit for immediate stabilisation and surgery,” reads part of the press release from the hospital.
KNH says that clinical examinations on the patient, including CT scans and blood tests confirmed a penetrating injury into the brain, brain swelling with ongoing bleeding and possible infection.
“Additionally, the ability of his blood to clot was impaired, requiring correction before any surgical intervention,” says the statement by KNH.
Muthoni, however, claims that the hospital only administered first aid at Casualty and that her son died before he was wheeled into the theatre.
“I would greatly appreciate getting justice for my son. If I had money, my son would not have died because I would have taken him to another hospital to save his life,” Muthoni says.
Back home, Travis’ brothers do not understand how a playful moment turned into his untimely death.
They sit next to their mother during their interview, oblivious to the weight of the incident that none of them can clearly explain.
Muthoni’s family and neighbours have started burial arrangements and plan to move the body to General Kago Funeral Home ahead of the burial scheduled for Tuesday.