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Couple stuck with dead infant for two years wants answers

It has been two long years for one couple in Nairobi, who lost their baby at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital at birth and in the baby’s place they got a corpse – someone else’s dead baby.

Daniel Githui 35, and Consolata Mumbi, 25, have had to commission a DNA test to clear any doubts that the dead baby is not theirs.

All this while, the body has been lying at the City Mortuary. And now the Directorate of Criminal Investigations has had to be brought in to help solve the puzzle of the missing child.

The Saturday Nation visited the couple at their one-room house in Pangani. Sitting side by side, they said that they believe their baby is out there somewhere, alive.

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS

“My baby would be two years and a month today,” said Ms Mumbi, fighting back tears. “I strongly feel that he is alive. I remember him every day and pray that God links me up with him someday.”

The loss of their baby has caused them many sleepless nights.

The matter, which has been investigated by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC), has now been handed over to the DCI as doctors deem the matter a crime.

Ms Mumbi remembers with dread January 19, 2018, when she went into labour and was rushed to the Kiambu District Hospital.

The baby was overdue and that day she experienced bleeding and slight back pains.

After all-night labour, the following morning she was transferred to Pumwani Maternity Hospital, where she arrived at around 9pm. Her birth canal was not opening up adequately and it was not until around 2am that she was booked for a Caesarean section, having lost a lot of blood and with the baby in distress. But she says she was wheeled into the theatre at 6.30am.

Her husband, meanwhile, waited outside the theatre, pacing in the corridors, anxiously awaiting the good news. About 20 minutes later, Mr Githui was called in.

“They informed me that our baby was already dead and said it weighed 3.9 kilos. But the body they showed me was already stiff and cold. The umbilical cord was even dry. I disputed their account. It did not make sense and I refused to sign documents indicating that my wife had a stillbirth,” he said.

The hospital did not allow their relatives to see the body.

SIGN PAPERS

He asked to see his wife, but they said “he was complicating matters further”. They said he should sign the papers and leave. He did not sign but left briefly.

Ms Mumbi woke up in the recovery room to find two male nurses standing by her bedside.

“They told me to write that I had a stillbirth and sign the piece of paper,” she said. “I was still confused. I did as they said and the nurses later transferred me to the ward.”

The confused couple was later asked to decide whether they would bury the dead baby or “let the government bury her”. They wanted something different: A DNA test, for every indication, was that the dead baby was not theirs. This did not go down well with the hospital.

Ms Mumbi was discharged from the facility after four days to continue with medication at home. The couple decided to pursue the case and reported the incident at the Kiambu Police Station. After a meeting with a hospital representative and the police, they were advised to undertake a DNA test to resolve the puzzle.

Samples were obtained on February 18, 2018 and taken to the Government Chemist. A procedure they thought would take, at most, two months ended up taking more than a year.

Mr Githui constantly called the investigators, seeking to know why the results had not been released. He also visited several human-rights organisations that kept exchanging letters with the government.

DNA RESULTS

He lost his job in May 2019 for perpetually asking for off days and picking up calls against the employer’s rules, as he followed up the matter.

Not giving up, the couple visited the Commission for Administrative Justice (Ombudsman), who wrote a letter demanding to know from the Government Chemist why the release of the DNA results had delayed despite an authorisation to expedite it for legal reasons.

In response, Mr Ali Gakweli of the Government Chemist on July 29, 2019 replied saying the delay was occasioned by a backlog of forensic case files.

“The case was received in our laboratory on February 19, 2018. The case file was actually prioritised for expeditious analysis. However, there have been several technical challenges that have impeded the smooth and efficient flow of work at the department,” said Mr Gakweli and he asked the DCI to collect the results as had been concluded.

“Based on the above findings, Consolata Mumbi and Daniel Githui are excluded as biological mother and father to Baby Consolata Mumbi,” Government analyst Dr J.K. Kimani wrote on July 25, 2019.

Although they were happy to know the dead baby is not theirs, this news opened another chapter — of seeking their biological child. They so much hope she or he is alive, but even if not, finding the body will save them the sleepless nights, gruelling walks from office to office and, most importantly, give them closure.

They were advised to sue the hospital, but the lack of money for legal fees made the option untenable.

Contacted, Pumwani hospital administrator George Mosiria told the Saturday Nation that they had given the Ombudsman a blow-by-blow account on what transpired and wouldn’t wish to comment further.

KMPDC chairman Dr Daniel Yumbya, in a letter dated June 19, 2020, urged DCI to take action.

“The disciplinary and ethics committee of the council noted that the issues raised are criminal in nature, as they relate to the alleged swapping of newborns at Pumwani Maternity Hospital. The council does not have the jurisdiction to enquire into matters that are criminal in nature,” said the chairman.“It is, therefore, our considered opinion that this matter is best handled by the DCI for further action.”