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Tree accident claims boy’s arm and cheer

By | April 19th 2012


Despite the hot Sunday afternoon, five boys play a football made of tattered nylon paper at Mwakingali village in Voi town, Taita-Taveta County.

As they shove, push and tackle, Simon Mjomba, eleven, breaks out from the vigorous activity and walks to a nearby shade and sits on a stone.

LIFE GOES ON: After losing his arm, Simon Mjomba’s physical wound has healed, but he is yet to adjust emotionally. [PHOTO: PASCAL MWANDAMBO/STANDARD]

His playmates urge him to continue playing, but he tells them he is tired and wants to be left alone.

That is what Mjomba often does when a game turns rough. It probably reminds him of the freak accident last January that led to his right arm being amputated.

Although the physical scars have healed, the boy is no longer the same jovial Mjomba who enjoyed fun at school.

The Standard Five pupil did not attend classes last term after he fell off a tree while playing.

The reality that he has lost his right hand haunts him. Sometimes he hides in a corner and cries. He cries because he actually didn’t have to lose his arm if it were not for a health worker’s misconduct at the Moi Hospital in Voi.

Ignored him

When he was taken to hospital, it is reported that medics at the facility ignored him. If they had attended to him immediately, perhaps his arm would be intact.

Now human rights activists in Voi want the hospital penalised for neglect.

No one at the hospital wanted to talk about the boy’s case, but a senior officer told The Standard, on condition of anonymity, that "the case is sad and unfortunate. Probably the boy’s arm could have been saved. But instead of apportioning blame, the public should also know that most of us are working with overstretched facilities and under a lot of pressure. The Government should shoulder the blame for failing to fully equip the hospital."

A human rights activist says many patients suffer because of neglect and due to the rampant poverty, but medics are hardly punished.

"The Government should investigate all cases of mistreatment of patients at the health institution and the errant staff punished," he says.

Now Mjomba has to learn to use his left hand. It is tough but at least he didn’t lose both arms, he feebly consoles himself.

Mjomba’s mother, Memshomi Mjomba, a casual labourer, says the boy’s hand could have been saved had he been given the necessary attention at the hospital.

"After Mjomba fell from a tree at school, the teachers rushed him to Moi Hospital. I was informed later by a parent about the incident and I went to the hospital where I found my son in excruciating pain, yet no doctor had attended to him. A tendon was protruding from the lower wrist," explains Memshomi.

The distraught mother says she spent two sleepless nights with the boy at the hospital without any due attention to the boy save for the painkillers they gave him.

Become septic

"After three days, a doctor cleaned the wound which had become septic and was producing a foul smell. Afterwards my son was discharged," she says.

Memshomi says once they were back home, the boy’s condition continued to worsen and the wound festered.

"I tried to raise money so that I could take my son to a private clinic but I only got Sh1,000 and after much thought, I decided to take him back to Moi."

Initially, staff at the hospital wanted to turn her away but once the boy was admitted and the bandage removed, they discovered the arm was rotting.

"My son was crying and in a lot of pain. After three more days at the hospital, Mjomba’s hand began to decompose and maggots fell off. It was producing an awful smell."

"The boy’s right hand had to be amputated. It was a sad fate for my son," Memshomi said, overcome by emotion.

After this dark incident in Mjomba’s life, he needs to be encouraged that all is not lost; that losing his arm is not the end of the road. At the moment, he is slowly picking up the pieces, learning how to be left-handed. And playing with his friends if only to adjust to normalcy.

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