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Family demands body of a loved one after hospital mistakenly releases it

By Anyango Otieno | October 23rd 2020
Jeremiah Nyaega (right) flanked by his friend Thomas Momanyi makes a call at Mama Lucy Hospital, Nairobi. Jeremiah found the body of his wife, Pauline Sandia missing when he went to collect it for burial. October 21st,2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A family in Nairobi is demanding the body of their kin said to have been mistakenly released from Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to a wrong family.

The family of the late Pauline Wandia, 47, had made funeral preparations and were ready to collect her body for burial in Nyamira County, only to be told, "it is not there".

According to Jeremiah Nyaega (pictured), Wandia’s husband, the body was released to another family from Kisii.

“I requested to view my wife's body and was asked to wait. After waiting for too long I became suspicious. I protested and, that is when I was told the body had been released to another family,” Nyaega said.

Wandia was taken to Mama Lucy Hospital on October 4 for cancer management but succumbed to complications on October 11 and her body was transferred to the hospital's morgue.

“On Tuesday last week, one of our members went to check on the state of the body and it was intact. But on Sunday when other family members went to view it, they were asked to come back on Tuesday,” he said.

All the while, Nyaega and his family had been making funeral arrangements. On Monday when they asked to view the body, they were denied access and asked to "come back tomorrow" (Tuesday).

On Tuesday the family went to the hospital to clear the mortuary bill and collect the body only to learn that it was missing.

“The body had a name tag of Pauline Wandia, how come the mortuary released it to the wrong people?” posed Nyaega.

Luckily the family in possession of Wandia’s body was contacted and confirmed the body they had picked at the facility was not of their kin.

Nyaega's family now demands that the management at Mama Lucy Hospital returns his wife's body to Nairobi or they would seek legal redress.

“We had a programme and we were following it diligently but the hospital has messed us," Nyaega said.

"They (hospital management) should take the responsibility of bringing back the body to us, we did not take it to Kisii."

He expects the body of his wife to be ferried to Nairobi today so that they can transport it to Nyamira for the burial rites.

Dr Emma Mutio, Mama Lucy Hospital medical superintendent, said the facility accepted liability and apologised.

She said that the hospital management will take responsibility to ensure the body has safely been returned to the rightful family.

“I was not even aware of such an incident but luckily we have come to an understanding, we will use our internal mechanisms to sort the issue out,” Mutio said. "We regret the agony suffered by the affected family."

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