Police in Kisumu are investigating a woman's claim that her newborn was stolen at a public hospital.
Loyce Achieng', 31, alleged that health workers swapped her infant with a dead baby after she gave birth at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital on February 1.
Yesterday, officers from the regional Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) supervised the extraction of samples from Ms Achieng' and the body of the baby, which is preserved at the hospital’s mortuary.
Kisumu Central DCI Noah Katumo said an investigation was started after both Achieng' and the hospital administration separately reported the matter.
“We will first do a postmortem and a DNA test. The results will inform our next course of action,” said Mr Katumo.
Achieng', who lives in Bondo town in Siaya, said she was driven to the hospital on January 26 by a Good Samaritan.
“I had gone to the chemist to buy drugs when I had a stomachache. I was told not to take medication without a doctor’s advice. When I explained my situation to the well-wisher, he drove me to this hospital."
She was admitted in the labour ward and six days later, she delivered by caesarean section.
Achieng' claimed that she was awake during the operation after being given a spinal anaesthesia that numbed her from the waist down. She said she saw her baby boy before he was transferred to the nursery and she was taken back to the ward to rest.
On February 2, a hospital employee told her that her son had died. She said she doubted the news because it came barely an hour before another staff had told her the baby was fine and she would be allowed to breastfeed him shortly.
When the dead baby was finally brought to her, Achieng' said she rejected it because it was not hers.
“I had the pictures of my baby in my phone, which some of the nurses had taken for me immediately after delivery. When I looked at the one brought to me, there was a big difference,” she said.
Hospital Superintendent Peter Okoth said the institution had complied with police requests and hoped the truth would come out, adding that a police report was filed when Achieng' rejected the baby.
“From our side, we believe the woman was given the right baby. But we knew that no amount of explanation would work, and that the only way to find out the truth was through scientific methods such as a DNA test. That is why we involved the police.”
Dr Okoth said that although public hospitals had been in the limelight over claims of baby thefts, Jaramogi Hospital had taken measures to protect its patients.
“Should it turn out that the fault was on our side, we know the staff who attended to her and the necessary action will be taken because it is a crime. The same should also apply to her.”