Blessing Kathure and Favour Karimi, who were born conjoined, returned to the hospital where they were delivered to celebrate their fourth birthday.
Carol Mukiri, their mother, and St Theresa’s Kiirua Mission Hospital staff were all smiles on Tuesday during the girls' first birthday party since they left Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), where they had the surgery to separate them.
And as the girls mingled with the team that brought them into the world and patients from the children’s ward yesterday, some of the hospital's staff recounted the anxiety that preceded their birth.
Peter M’Gaiti, a theatre nurse, was among those who responded after learning that Ms Mukiri was about to deliver conjoined babies.
“Due to the difficulty the mother was experiencing when she went into labour, a caesarean was considered but the idea was dismissed when it emerged that this would also be difficult.
“We were prepared to go to theatre but one of the babies was partly out, so operating was ruled out due to the danger it would pose to the babies and the mother. So we just had to encourage the mother to continue pushing,” he told the packed hall where the party was held.
God is great
Agnes Mukulu, an anaesthetist, told the guests, including the hospital's CEO Agnes Nkatha, that she was moved by what she saw when Mukiri went into labour.
“I am happy to be part of this story. They were born on a Friday but we evacuated them to KNH on Sunday after informing the hospital that we needed their help,” Sr Mukulu said.
Nurse Florah Wanja also remembered the dilemma that day. “Our worry was how do we nurse them? How do we place them in the newborn unit? We had a lot of discussions before we sought help from KNH,” said Mukulu.
She and other nurses visited the twins and their mother several times at KNH, where the operation was done to separate the babies.
A team of 58 health workers separated the twins in a 23-hour operation that started on November 1, 2016 and ended the following day. The operation was said to have been the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ms Nkatha, who also visited the mother and twins at KNH, said she took photos of the twins and sent them to medical experts in Kenya and the Catholic Church headquarters in Italy asking for advice.