Hours before Dr Stephen Mogusu succumbed to Covid-19 were defined by hopelessness, tears and a desperate funds drive.
The family needed to raise a deposit of Sh200,000 for him to be put on a ventilator at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Nairobi.
His father Naftal Ongweno tearfully narrated how he went round Iranda village in Marani Sub-County in Kisii, begging neighbours to help raise funds for his son whose health was deteriorating fast.
“From the moment he was admitted to hospital after contracting coronavirus while working with infected patients, we had to pay all the bills,” said Mr Ongweno.
The family says the three weeks their son was in hospital were devastating. Alone and isolated in the ward, Mogusu, 28, would call and reassure his family that he would get better.
When he developed laboured breathing, he requested for photos of his four-month-old baby.
He had promised to be home for Christmas. “I was looking forward to holding my grandchild this festive season,” said Mogusu’s mother Agnes Moraa.
His mother recalled the humble beginnings that moulded the doctor. When he was admitted to Lenana School they only had Sh5,000. “My son insisted on us going to Nairobi and trying our luck. A good Samaritan heard our story and offered to pay,” said Ms Moraa.
Mogusu scored Grade A (85 points) and got a chance at the University of Nairobi. “He always wanted to be a doctor. That is what he always talked about,” said Moraa.
As the bill piled, his peers said he kept writing messages telling them to agitate for their pay and get out of the medical profession since it was not rewarding.
“He had done his part, treating people admitted with coronavirus. When it was time for him to be paid, everyone looked aside. He died without dignity. Broke and begging,” wrote Moses Marara on social media.
Mogusu was attached to Machakos County hospital. Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) said he had not been paid for five months.
“At the time of his death, he had not received his salary for five months, had no insurance, and his young family left with no compensation,” stated KMPDU.
For the better part of yesterday Mogusu’s name trended, bringing to the fore the burden medics have to bear as they fight the pandemic. “I was at the forefront advocating for the release of the Sh1 billion from the Treasury to hire additional health workers to manage Covid-19. This just makes my blood boil,” said Elizabeth Wala, a doctor.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua had an exchange with social media users, who blamed him for not looking into the welfare of medics. “We have been very active in handling his case, even offering treatment and communicating with his family throughout his illness. We are pained by his passing and feel the loss,” Dr Mutua tweeted.
From when he was an intern at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital, his friend Benjamin Morira said, he was intelligent and loved to pray.