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Wife's death gives widower new calling

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Joackim Bwana AND Mwangi Muraguri | July 29th 2015

Coping has not been easy for Raphael Musyimi since he lost his wife in a surgery gone awry six months ago. Raphael says after many days of weeping he has realised that nothing, not even an ocean-full of tears can bring back his lovely wife.

He says his 28-year-old wife, Irene Wayua Mutua, was a meticulous organiser and planner. She woke up early every day to prepare everyone for the day. All that changed when she died unexpectedly.

The family’s rhythm was disrupted and Raphael, 34, became hopeless.

“Tears were my food for many nights. Then one day, I came to my senses and realised I had to be strong for my little children,” says Raphael, fighting to hold back his tears.

His children, an eight-year-old daughter and son, five, wanted to know where their mother had gone and why she was not coming back.

He tells them that “she went to be with the Lord and you will meet her again in heaven someday”. Although they are young, they seem to understand that their mother is gone, says Raphael.

As he comforts his children, he gets comfort from the church community. The encouragement has helped him deal with his loss.

“My pastor’s encouragement and counselling have been very helpful. I’ve always wondered what would’ve happened if I was not affiliated to such a strong church community,” says Raphael, who witnessed the whole ordeal of his wife bleeding to death.

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The fact that God is the creator and the giver of life, he says, has given him immense peace and calmness.

The feeling that his wife died unnecessarily gives him sleepless nights sometimes. Is there something he would have done to prevent her death at the hands of medical personnel? This question nags him often. Then he gets angry that professional neglect caused his wife’s death.

Raphael took his wife to Coast General Hospital at 6a.m. on January 25 for child birth. At 10p.m., she was taken to the theatre to have a caesarian to deliver their third child.

At 3p.m., says Raphael, his wife developed complications but there was no nurse in sight to even change the drip. She was struggling to breathe and was bleeding profusely.

“The beddings were soaked and the blood was dripping onto the floor. I called a nurse to come and help but when she checked the patient, she assured me that the bleeding was normal.”

Raphael asked her to use fresh cotton wool as he had bought a full roll but the nurse dismissed him telling him to use his own scarf or sheet to cover her.

Before she walked away, the nurse asked him to go and buy drugs for his wife to take while having breakfast. He went to buy them outside the hospital as the hospital did not have the drugs.

“I took about 20 minutes to reach the chemist and when I came back, I realised the drip was empty and no one was there to replace it.”

The morning shift nurse came in and realised something was terribly wrong and called her colleague.

“The second nurse came in and looked at my wife shortly and dashed out without talking to me. Twenty minutes later doctors came in and declared my wife was no more,” says Raphael, pensively.

According to the death certificate, Wayua succumbed to post-operative haemorrhagic shock due to excessive bleeding from the uterus.

 Excessive bleeding

The pathologist who carried out the postmortem, a Dr Mburu (as written in the pathologist’s report), explained that Wayua was not injected with the medicine meant to regulate excessive bleeding.

Raphael recorded a video of this conversation and showed us. In the video, the doctor explains that the drug is aimed to harden the uterus to prevent excessive bleeding. He further says the uterus should be massaged to ease the flow of blood.

“This uterus is very soft which should not be the case and there is a lot of blood clotting meaning it was never massaged and the drug was never administered to regulate the bleeding,” says the doctor in the video.

The pathologist said that in some extreme measures, where the uterus fails to close, doctors are forced to remove the whole uterus to save the life of the mother.

Interestingly, says Raphael, he never signed any form assenting to the caesarian section as surgery procedure requires.

He said the doctors told him that his wife had insufficient blood, an issue he says was never raised before the operation whose aftermath saw his wife bleed to death.

“We had discussed with the doctors the possibility of a surgery but we never quite decided on the way forward. They (doctors) told me they would get back to me shortly but the next time I heard from them, they told me that my wife had successfully delivered and both mother and son were okay. But I never signed any surgery papers agreeing to the terms of surgery otherwise I would not be raising these concerns,” he says.

However, the hospital’s chief administrator, Dr Iqbal Khandwalla, dismissed The Standard reporters who had on several occasions made an appointment to get the hospital to clarify the matter.

“I have nothing to say to you, this is a confidential matter that does not concern you and I have explained to the patient what happened, you can talk to him if you want, I cannot speak to you,” retorted Dr Khandwalla.

Coast General Hospital where Musyimi's wife passed on after a surgery gone awry.

(PHOTO: COURTESY)

He says the hospital talked to him about compensation but he declined the offer.

“I detest a situation where I agree to be compensated and the hospital continues to mistreat patients. I have always wondered if my wife would have been treated the same way if she had well connected relatives acquainted to senior doctors and the management,” says Raphael.

He says the tragedy has sharpened his sense of awareness and sympathy for families of those who suffer injustice.

 Avenues to justice

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) Chief Executive Officer Dr Daniel Yumbya says anyone with a complaint against a doctor should start by filing a complaint for investigation. The form can be downloaded from the Board’s website.

Once the form is received, investigations begin.

A convicted doctor who is found to have flouted the law can face penalties ranging from being issued with a warning to de-registration from practice for an indefinite period.

The medical practitioner can also be ordered to enter into a mediation agreement with the family of the deceased, among other disciplinary measures which can also be slapped on the medical institution.

According to a brief from KMPDB signed by Yumbya, medical errors which form part of the conduct that can result in disciplinary inquiry include: Misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, wrong treatment or medication, emergency room errors, surgical errors, patient abandonment, transfer without proper instruction, lack of informed consent, dental errors and psychiatric malpractice.

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