As IEBC Returning Officer, Geoffrey Gitobu, was buried in Meru County, his sudden death shocked Kenyans following the heated conclusion of the August 2022 elections.
According to an autopsy conducted by three pathologists Dr Simon Amok, Dr Ayub Macharia and Dr Harrison Kiambati at a Nanyuki morgue, Gitobu died of a blood clot in his pulmonary system. Or Pulmonary Thromboembolism (PTE) that has 95 per cent mortality rate.
American tennis star Serena Williams almost died of PTE in 2017 after her pregnancy.
“I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia. Yet I consider myself fortunate…just 24 hours after giving birth were six days of uncertainty,” a 2018 essay on CNN said.
“It began with a pulmonary embolism, which is a condition in which one or more arteries in the lungs becomes blocked by a blood clot.”
Williams later underwent surgery to remove a clot from her abdomen and lungs. She attributed her survival to medics whose care saved her life.
Dr Simon Peter, a doctor at Outspan Hospital in Nyeri County, said PTE is a clot in the blood vessels of the chest which supply the lung and sometimes the heart and though there are numerous risk factors “the most common among young people are genetic and autoimmune conditions.”
Another risk factor for PTE is any condition that renders one inactive for long periods or being immobile for more than three days as “risk of getting a PTE increases by 50 per cent especially if you have had surgery and are not on medication to prevent clots,” adds Dr Peter.
He says viral infections like Covid-19 are other factors which predispose people to blood clots.
Dr Peter also said cancers can also be a risk factor if the tumours cause clots, long haul travels like flights or drives and pregnancies increase the chances of blood clots.
“Combined oral contraceptive pill (COCs) specifically oestrogen-containing pills can cause clots in the brain, chest, legs and liver hepatomas depending on how long a woman is taking the pills,” he cautioned.
He added that survival depends on the extent of the PTE for instance massive PTE has a 98 per cent mortality rate, compared to sub-massive and regular PTE.
“If you have massive PTE it means over 50 percent of your lungs have clots, putting pressure on the heart, which leads may lead to right heart failure,” Dr Peter says.
He recommends avoiding long periods of immobility, avoid oestrogen-containing pills in favour of progesterone and “pregnant women should also try to move around and regular check-ups.”