Nyamweya is a journalist currently attached to a leading Kenyan media
Joan Atulo has never known peace ever since her third born daughter came into this world 11 years ago. Three years after birth, the daughter began developing stomach complications, prompting the mother together with her husband to take her to Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital. The doctors at this hospital recommended surgery to reduce the hub which was at that time excessively big. The operation was successful and the child went on with life normally and she was able to join grade 1 without any problem. However, when she moved to grade 2, the problem manifested itself once more.
“We tried to ignore the problem thinking that it will go away by itself but it became worse when she was in class 3. This is when we rushed her back to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital where she was diagnoised with what the doctors referred as umblical hernia”.
According to Dr. Stephen Odhiambo of Nairobi women’s hospital, umblical hernia is an abnormal bulge which can be felt or even observed at the belly button. Dr Odhiambo says that it develops when part of the abdomen, abdomen fluid or a section of the intestines comes through the linings of the abdominal wall. The doctor also reveals that although little known, the condition is a common one and occurs on an average of 20 percent of all children.
Concerning its cause, the problem is a naturally occurring one rather being a biological one as explained by Dr. Odhiambo;
“As the fetus continues to grow inside the womb, there is a small opening within the abdominal muscles which makes it possible for the umblical code to pass through and whose role is to connect the baby to the mother. After the baby’s birth, this opening is supposed to close itself. However, for some mothers, the muscles may not grow and meet together completely, leaving an open small opening which is now called umbilical hernia”.
However, the child was not able to get the recommended surgery at Mama Lucy Kibaki and instead, they referred her to Nairobi East Hospital which also referred her to Kenyatta National Hospital.
At Kenyatta National Hospital, she was able to undergo the required surgery but Joan had to fathom more devastating news; the child’s appendix was damaged too!
The doctors removed the appendix, with all the intestines and washed them and about 1.5 litre rot was removed from the stomach.
“I felt the world should collapse and swallow me; when I thought the problems I and my child was going through was more than enough, then the worst was now awaiting her” laments Joan who also adds that “I asked God many times why my baby was going through all this pain in her life”
Despite all these procedures, the child’s condition did not improve. She could writhe in pain for several occasions after being discharged. The family had no option but to take her back to hospital for more checkups. Every time, the doctors recommend operation to check the status of the stomach and the umbilical code. The pain and problem only disappears for a while before coming back.
The problem has been going on ever since and the surgery has been done for the fifth time at Kenyatta National Hospital but no improvement is being manifested. She is supposed to undergo a sixth surgery but Joan claims the family has been depleted of funds.
“I have sought assistance from all quarters including my friends, relatives, well-wishers and even NHIF and now there is nobody to turn to for this sixth surgery” claims the mother of three who also adds that I am sure those who have been assisting her in previous surgeries are tired”
As at now, the child is at home as she can’t join school with her condition. They have also to grapple with her excruciating pain and they have to keep lots of painkillers at the house.
“Sometimes, I have to wake up at 2am when she is writhing in pain to go and look for painkillers at pharmacies if they are not in the house”
Joan is now looking for well-wishers to enable her take her daughter back to surgery for the sixth time. She can be reached on +254716541147
Silas Nyamweya (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on September 07, 2021:
Thanks for your concern Hansen
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on September 07, 2021:
This is a terrible situation. I feel for the girl and her family.