Switched at birth? Couple asks the state, hospital for DNA results

Mama Lucy Hospital. Events happened four years ago at Mama Lucy Hospital and could change a family’s future.[File, Standard]

Events that happened at Mama Lucy Hospital four years ago have forced a nursery school teacher to live in uncertainty of whether she is the real mother to her daughter.

The teacher and her husband, first-time parents, now live on the edges of two worlds.

Their better side is that their love is cemented by a minor born in 2019.

Their anxiety is over the long wait for the High Court to order a release of the baby’s DNA tests done to ascertain if the girl is actually theirs.

The two, who we can’t name for the sake of the minor’s confidentiality, believe the hospital staff, switched the baby at birth.

We have also opted not to name the parents owing to the controversy involved.

The two parents have just won the first hurdle raised by the hospital, Ministry of Health, Attorney General, and Nairobi County.

These entities had argued that Justice Anthony Mrima should dismiss the case as there was a complaint pending before the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Council (KMPDC).

Mama Lucy, the ministry, AG and the county had argued that the court had no powers to hear the case.

The judge noted that although the council could deal with some of the issues raised,  the prayers sought in the case filed by the parents’ lawyer Clinton can not be entertained by KMPDC.

“It is on the basis of the foregoing that this court finds and holds that given the nature of the remedies sought in the realm of compensatory damages, the doctrine of exhaustion does not apply in the unique circumstances of this case. This court has jurisdiction to hear and determine the petition,” said Justice Mrima.

This win is the first step in unravelling the truth of what happened on July 15, 2019.

According to court records, the mother of one stated that at around 11am, she was taken to the theatre and delivered a baby girl through a cesarean section.

Their bundle of joy was tagged.

The couple wants the baby’s DNA tests done to ascertain if the girl is actually theirs. [iStockphoto]

The woman narrated in her court documents exclusively seen by The Standard that the baby was taken to the nursery while she remained in theatre until 4.30pm when she was transferred to the ward.

She informed her husband of the good news that they had a girl.

A thrilled first-time father, accompanied by his mother-in-law went to see the baby. 

In his affidavit, he alleged that he met around three nurses at the nursery. Upon asking for permission, he was shown the baby. In the case, the man told the court he found the tag indicating his daughter was a male weighing 2.8 kilos.

The names were however accurate. He claimed that on his way out, he was told by some women seated on a bench to verify identity of the minor as they were being exchanged.

Come July 16, 2019, she told the court that she went to the nursery to breastfeed the child.

However, she allegedly found the baby being breastfed by another mother. The nurse present informed the first petitioner that her baby was male, yet she was handed a boy and asked to return it to the mothers’ ward. According to court documents, the shocked mother broke down in tears and informed her husband of the bizarre news.

The two state that when they raised concerns, nurses brought them a file indicating their firstborn was a boy instead.

The court heard that the saga turned into a dramatic scene as the minor’s mother demanded her baby girl while the hospital nurses stuck to their guns that the male baby at the nursery was hers.

According to the two, there were three other babies at the nursery.

The two said they were later on directed to the nurse in charge who then allegedly informed them that there was an error and their baby was female.

In her court documents, the woman also claimed that her wound was never treated at the hospital and she ended up at Mathari Hospital out of postpartum depression.

Meanwhile, the case about the other baby ended up with the police. The issue was then mutually withdrawn. The court heard that by August 15, 2019, at least two DNA tests were done but the results have never been released. 

Mama Lucy hospital, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The couple stated that they filed a complaint before KMPDC. They now accuse the council of also failing to reveal the DNA results to them.

The court heard that the woman has lost her job due to mental distress and her family is no longer at peace.

“In this very moment, the petitioners live in doubt whether indeed the child they were given is theirs. The petitioners have been taking care of the baby to date with no information whether the child is theirs or not and due to the current financial status, they are unable to meet the DNA test costs,” court documents continue to read.

Mama Lucy in its report filed before court denied the claims. It argued that although there was a mix-up of babies, DNA was one to verify the parents. “The mix-up of babies is highly regretted and for which DNA was done, which is the correct procedure,” the report signed by Dr Emma Mutio, a Medical Superintendent read in part.

Mutio claimed it was the woman who allegedly identified her baby by the baby shawl, which was similar to another mother’s, and breastfed the wrong baby.

She however admitted that the doctor and the nurse made an error as they documented the minor as male. According to the doctor, the mother breastfed two children and not three.

“The baby was shown to the mother as a live female infant but during documentation, an error was made by both the doctor and the baby nurse whereby the sex was indicated as male but the mother knew her baby to be female. In view of the foul-smelling liquor and respiratory distress, the pediatrician team was called to review the baby. The admitting doctor to NBU also made an error and recorded the baby as male instead of female,” said Mutio.

The doctor also stated that the new mother was given reasonable care adding that her baby remained in good health in the newborn unit and given a follow-up schedule after one week.