By Gardy Chacha
Not many patients anticipate for a mega health condition developing from a single visit to the hospital to get a headache checked up. This is exactly what happened to Anne Khutika Nacheri. One Friday in 2004, still a healthy woman in a naturally lean frame, she got an unusually painful headache attack whose pangs continued hitting even after a day had passed.
She visited Mater Hospital and was told by the doctors that her blood pressure was abnormally high, something that according to the doctors prompted the headache. The medics managed to control her pressure and she was delighted to be out of the cradle of pain, albeit for the moment, while they prod for the underlying cause of the high blood pressure.
Biopsy gone wrong
Doctors who attended to her noted that it was not very normal for a woman with the right Body Mass index (BMI) to develop high blood pressure and so they admitted her to await further check-ups. From the results of an ultrasound and scan, it was found that her liver had increased in size, though she says it wasn’t conspicuous from the outside. But she was astonished by the news.
A liver specialist in the institution at the time, a Dr Okoth, explained to her that in order for them to release her, they needed to perform a biopsy; a process that involved excision of a piece of the affected organ for histological analysis and a sequence of other medical diagnostic processes, to fully ascertain the state of her health. She allowed the doctor to proceed with the procedure, which was effected through a nip on the left side of her abdomen.
During the procedure, instead of a small chunk of her bulging liver getting the purge out, only ounces of blood seemed to be streaming out of the doctor’s nick. Three times the medics missed to get the piece of liver flesh then realised that they had apparently made a mistake. She was then stitched up and told to lie on her left side to stop blood from oozing out. It didn’t last long before she went unconscious and was only discovered to be dying by nurses who were doing their usual rounds through the wards.
A brief resuscitation brought her back to consciousness. She was administered with vitamin K which brought her relief but only for hours since she lost her consciousness again the same day in the evening. The doctors resorted to infuse her with blood because she had lost a lot of it. For five days, she kept hope alive as her abdomen kept ballooning and her health deteriorated.
Doctors decided to operate on her at the point because her abdomen kept swelling at an unusual rate. From the surgery, the doctors realised that volumes of blood had pooled from the wound created by the said Dr Okoth during the biopsy process. The blood was evacuated and her abdomen reduced considerably but not to its usual size. From that time onwards, her liver kept increasing in size alarmingly and all specialists she visited didn’t want to risk attending to her.
Eight years down the line, several attempts to get help from various doctors have not bore fruit. With her husband’s savings gone; all she has is a supportive family and a bulging abdomen, which at times gets her congratulated for ‘expecting’ new life.
She says: “People who meet me after a long time sometimes mistake this for a pregnancy and even though I try to avoid it, at times I just have to explain to them what is happening.”