Family divided over kin's body organs donated in Saudi Arabia

When The Standard caught up with Wangari at their home at Mwimuto area in Kabete, her children were glued to the television watching cartoons, oblivious of how their lives were about to change.

"That day Edward had promised to call again at around 1pm. That time passed without hearing from him. When I called his line it was not answered until the next day," said Wangari.

Luckily, she traced a number that Gathungu had been using to send her money and spoke to his roommate.

"The roommate told me he had gone out with him the previous evening which was a Saturday, but they parted ways and the roommate returned before my husband. He told me that he was also looking for my husband," she said.

Distraught, Wangari said she managed to trace an agent who followed up in Saudi and reported back that Gathungu was involved in a road accident and was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a hospital.

"I received a call from a person identified as Abdul Azziz who said he was one of the workers at the hospital where Gathungu was admitted, telling us that he was brain dead," explained Wangari.

Wangari said Azziz told her that since Gathungu was in bad condition, she should allow them to remove his vital organs for donation.

"They kept calling telling me if I didn't give them consent he might die anytime," she said, adding that some family members were also pushing her to give consent.

Wangari sought assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 11, where she was instructed to make a formal request through the Embassy, stating that Gathungu's organs should not be removed and he should be left on the ventilator.

But in an unexpected twist, Wangari discovered that someone had already used her details at the Ministry instructing the hospital to remove Gathungu's organs for donation.

Wangari obtained a letter at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that she was among those who had signed consent allowing the hospital to go ahead with their request.

"We hereby give our consent to the concerned authorities of Saudi Centre for Organ Transplant in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for donation and without any force from anyone we undertake that we shall never in future raise any disputes against the concerned authorities accepting all organs and cornea," the letter read.

But Martin Maina, who is Gathungu's uncle, said that there was no cause for alarm.

"The matter you are following is nonsense. The family is okay. Why is the media concerned yet you are not part of the family? Everything you have seen on social media or heard is not true," said Mr Maina.

Power of Attorney

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the Director of Diaspora and Consular Affairs, Ambassador Washington Oloo, who gave a statement on Gathungu's death.

Mr Oloo said that on October 18, one Martin Maina Gathungu (uncle) visited the office and tabled a letter from a lawyer indicating that three family members would receive the body on arrival at JKIA and giving consent for organ donation.

"The Power of Attorney authorised (the mother) of the deceased to receive any financial settlement and honorarium from the Ministry of Health as any other organisation from Saudi Arabia on behalf of the family," the statement read.

The statement showed that some family members and the deceased's wife were split over the organ donation. As the family awaits Gathungu's body to be repatriated for burial, Wangari is calling for justice.

"I don't want any money for organ donation. What I want is to be told how my husband died, and why there was a kind of hurry for his organs to be removed for donation," said Wangari.