By Gardy Chacha
On July 2, two policemen picked a woman they found in a coma and took her to Kenyatta National Hospital. They did not explain where they collected her from but medics, guided by oath of service to humanity, immediately started her on treatment.
The doctors’ preliminary analysis of the woman’s vital signs showed her temperature was very high. This in addition to her almost vegetative state indicated there was a probable viral-bacterial infection of the system that circumvents the brain and the spinal cord.
Without identity or how to contact her next of kin for her medical history, doctors named her ‘Unknown African Woman’ and commenced treatment.
Tests showed that she was suffering from meningitis, instigated by the infection of meninges (double membranes covering the brain surface) by bacteria.
Meanwhile, they hoped a relative looking for her would surface.
Due to the infection, the woman developed hydrocephalus, a condition common with newborns than adults, where a lot of fluid develops around the brain, giving the head a visible bulge and puts pressure on the brain. She was fitted with a draining shunt to channel away the fluid from her head.
As days passed and no one turned up to claim the patient, the medics decided to give her a name for ease of reference — Julie.
Through ultrasound scans, the doctors ascertained that she had a pregnancy of 22 weeks. That is five and-a-half months. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Julie’s being pregnant presented the medics with a new challenge; what dosage to give for treatment while taking care they don’t hurt the life growing in her. Then, to the surprise of everyone, Julie went into labour on August 5, at 27 weeks into her pregnancy and delivered a live and fine looking baby girl naturally with the help of doctors and hospital staff.
Many will see this as a miracle given that Julie’s comatose state meant that she was effectively detached from consciousness and perception.
How did it possibly happen? Speaking to The Standard, Dr John Ong’ech, an obstetric gynaecologist and chairman of Reproductive Health at the hospital said: “In her situation, the baby was favourably small and so once her cervix had fully dilated, the baby swiftly came out. If the baby had been big, considerable problems would’ve been the likeliest of situations.”
Asked about the possibility of a Caesarian section, Dr Ong’ech said it would have required that they use anaesthesia on her, “drugs which could harbour considerable danger to her already knackered state of health.”