Mother sits with dead infant at mortuary to wait for services

Immaculate Ouma during an interview with the Standard. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
A woman yesterday carried the body of her baby for about 5km to a mortuary because officials at a city hospital where the boy died could not help transport it.

Immaculate Auma had to undergo the agonising journey from Mbagathi Hospital, where her six-month-old baby died yesterday morning, to a police post at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), where she was required to file a notification.

The grieving mother then, cradling the lifeless body, had to walk again to City Mortuary, where attendants kept her waiting for hours.

Auma and her mother Linet Atieno sat on the cold concrete bench at the mortuary for more than three hours, holding the corpse in turns, as they waited to be attended to.

They could not afford to take the body to a private mortuary.

“We came at around 10.30am and did not find anyone, so we sat on the bench,” said Atieno.

It took the intervention of The Standard reporters and human rights defenders, who were at the mortuary, to get Auma’s baby’s body booked.

“What if she was traumatised and got knocked by a vehicle while walking to this place,” one of the activists posed.

After the protests, a mortuary attendant offered to help Auma.

“They took my child, but they did not put him in a fridge yet. I just hope that the body will be well preserved,” she said.

The sad state of affairs at the mortuary has been contributed to by the Nairobi County workers’ strike, which began on Tuesday.

The mortuary is under the management of Nairobi County Government.

First stop

Auma first took her son to Shofco Health Centre in Kibra on Tuesday after she realised he had a fever on Monday evening. He was diagnosed with pneumonia.

“He was breathing heavily, and even though I bought some of the drugs that were prescribed, there was not much improvement,” Auma said.

She was advised to take the child to Mbagathi Hospital on Wednesday morning after his condition worsened. He died while being attended to.

“I immediately called my mother and she came to the hospital,” Auma said.

She said they asked the doctor if they could get help to take the child to the mortuary. They could not get any. Instead, they were told to go to the police post at KNH to get a clearance letter to take the baby to any mortuary.

“After we finished all the formalities with the police at Kenyatta, we were told to take the body of my grandchild and proceed to City Mortuary,” Mrs Atieno said, adding that even the police did not help them take the corpse to the mortuary.

Atieno and Auma, while walking to the mortuary, only covered the corpse with a shawl. “I only had Sh200 with me, which I used to pay the Boda Boda rider who took me to Mbagathi Hospital,” Atieno said.

The Standard, through calls and text messages, tried to reach Mbagathi Hospital Medical Superintendent Joseph Karani and Nairobi County Health CEC Charles Kerich, but they had not responded by the time of going to press yesterday.

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Immaculate AumaMbagathi HospitalKenyatta National HospitalKNHCity Mortuary