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Mothers ‘signed for stillbirth’ in advance at Pumwani

The case of a couple accusing a Nairobi hospital of swapping their babies with dead ones has brought out the agony of patients attending public hospitals.

Senators investigating the case at Pumwani Maternity Hospital on Thursday heard how expectant mothers were made to sign forms stating they would give birth to dead babies.

As the Senate Health Committee chaired by Dr Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo, URP) began to investigate the matter, it emerged that hospital and legal procedures were never followed in dealing with patients.

Mr Dedan Kimathi and his wife Jacinta Wanjiku claimed that a post-mortem and DNA results presented to them were not done on the bodies of their babies said to have been born dead on January 6, at Pumwani Maternity Hospital.

BLAME CITY MORTUARY

County Chief Medical Officer Robert Ayisi and Hospital Superintendent Omondi Kumba blamed the City Mortuary for the DNA tests that indicated that there was no genetic relationship between the bodies and the couple.

“The post-mortem was done on the wrong bodies. The DNA samples were picked from wrong specimens. This is a sham. We raised the concerns with the City Mortuary authorities. Somebody there was compromised,” said Dr Kumba.

He said the bodies were switched, as “there is no way the bodies could have appeared pink and fresh during the post-mortem.

“We told the mortuary authorities that these are not the macerated bodies that we sent there for the post-mortem,” said Dr Kumba, adding that they checked through all the 173 bodies at the mortuary and those of the twins could not be traced.

Dr Ayisi expressed disappointment that they had not received any communication from the Government Chemist concerning the DNA results despite the hospital having asked for the tests to resolve the matter.

SCARY TALES

During a visit to the hospital, the senators heard scary tales of how expectant mothers were allegedly asked to append their signatures to hospital records indicating that they had stillbirths.

In some instances, the patients were not aware of what they were endorsing and the staff rarely bothered to seek their relatives’ assistance.

Nimeelezwa mtoto hachezi, anaweza kuwa hayupo,” (I have been told the foetus is not playing, it might be dead), one of the mothers at the hospital recalled the words a nurse had written down for her to sign.

Those who failed to sign were not allowed to proceed to the next level, yet at this point, they were in labour and needed attention.

Dr Kuti was accompanied by fellow Senators Wilfred Machage (Migori, ODM), who is also a medical doctor, and Ms Mvita Mshenga (Nominated, URP), who is a trained a midwife.

They wondered how nurses could be allowed to write notes on behalf of patients acknowledging stillbirths, contrary to hospital and universally accepted medical standards.