Peter Gitonga and his wife, Leah Waithira, with their two-month-old child, Austin Njoroge, whose left hand and right foot were amputated after he developed complications.
By Eric Wainaina
Mr Peter Gitonga and his wife, Ms Leah Waithira, cuddle their two-month-old baby to ease his pain following a recent operation. They are angry and disappointed, saying the surgery was occasioned by negligent medical staff.
Baby Austin Njoroge is in constant pain. Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) were forced to amputate his leg at the ankle and left hand at the wrist after what his parents said was a complication that developed in a botched BCG vaccination.
Ms Waithira, a first-time mother, delivered the baby by caesarean section at Kihara Hospital in Gachie, Kiambu, on February 7. She was discharged after three days, and says the baby was fine, “since any complications would have been indicated in the discharge sheet”.
Doctors advised her to return the following morning so that the infant could get the BCG and polio vaccinations. He got the BCG jab in his left hand and the polio vaccine orally.
But Ms Waithera says that when she returned home, she noticed that the baby was very uncomfortable. He had difficulty breathing, was crying a lot and had refused to breastfeed.
At midday, she noticed that the spot where he had been injected had become cold and numb, although she did not take it very seriously.
But as time went on, the baby showed signs of being unwell and at around 9pm, she and her husband rushed him to a local clinic, where they were advised to take him back to the facility where he had been vaccinated.
Back at Kihara Hospital, the doctors assured them the vaccination could not have caused such complications, and ran some tests on the baby.
The first one, on his sugar level, required the doctor to extract a blood sample from his fingers.
“The doctor pricked one of the fingers in the left hand but there was no blood. He used the same needle to prick a toe in the right foot, and after the test he informed us that the sugar level was too low, and that the baby was dehydrated. He insisted that the baby be admitted,” a devastated Ms Waithira told the Nation in an interview at their home in Ndenderu village, Kiambaa.
The following day, the mother noticed that part of the affected hand had turned dark blue and quickly alerted a nurse, who advised her to report to the doctor on duty.
But by midday, the condition had disappeared, and she heaved a sigh of relief.
Then, at 2pm, the condition recurred, this time also affecting the right foot from which the blood sample had been drawn.
The doctors said they needed to run tests to establish whether the baby was bleeding internally but before they could do that, he was referred to Kiambu Level Five Hospital for advanced treatment.
The referral sheet, dated February 13, indicated that the baby was diagnosed with “neonatal sepsis”.
At Kiambu Hospital, the couple was immediately referred to Kenyatta National Hospital.
In the referral sheet, Kiambu doctors indicted that “currently child is alert, looks dehydrated” and that he had been referred to a “paediatric surgeon … and possible amputation.”
At KNH, where the baby was treated for one and a half months, the affected hand and foot developed swellings with fluid inside.
After the swellings burst, the hand and foot started rotting, leaving amputation as the only option to prevent the infection from spreading.
Although the doctors tried to convince the couple that the vaccination was not to blame, they believe it is and keep asking why the baby did not develop any problems in his left foot, from which doctors at Kiambu Hospital also drew blood.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Kiambu health executive Mary Kamau said she had not been informed about the matter but would comment after talking to the relevant people.
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Publish date : 2019-04-12 06:32:19