Last Saturday, I had the chance to catch up with George Ojwang’ whose wife Claris developed pregnancy related complications when expecting their second son. This was in February 2012. Claris was 38 weeks pregnant when she developed pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening condition that occurs during pregnancy, usually after the 20th week.
After complaining of a severe headache, Claris had suddenly collapsed in the house where she had been resting, and was rushed to hospital. An emergency caesarean section was performed on her, and she delivered a healthy and bouncing baby boy called Henry. However, while the couple’s new-born son went straight from theatre to nursery, Claris went straight from theatre to the Intensive Care Unit.
A head scan revealed a ruptured blood vessel, which had led to a blood clot in the brain. As she lay comatose in her hospital bed, her husband George was always hopeful that his wife would eventually wake up from her slumber.
But she did not, for on 6 December 2012, Claris passed away. She never got to meet her son. Henry, now aged two years, never got the chance to meet his mother as well.
George was kind enough to grant me an interview, and he lets us know what happened on the day she died, and how life has been after that –as a widower raising two sons.
On the day that Claris died, George was headed to visit his wife at the hospital after a busy morning in the office.
“She was at the Kenyatta National Hospital, and that day, I was unable to get parking at the hospital. Frustrated, I decided to drive back to town to park my car there, then board a shuttle back to the hospital. As I was parking in town, I received a phone call from the hospital. The nurse told me that I was needed urgently, but refused to disclose the reason,” he says.
Just the evening before, George had spent time with his wife as usual.
“As I held her hand and spoke to her, something amazing happened. She had always been unresponsive but that day, even though she was still in a coma, I unbelievably watched tears stream down her face.”
“To me, it only meant one thing – that she was slipping out of the coma, and that it was only a matter of time before my Clarita (as he fondly called her) would regain consciousness. I left hospital that night a very happy and hopeful man, looking forward to seeing her the following day. I knew that she would be able to have a chat with me then.”
However, the phone call from the hospital as he parked his car caused him great anxiety.
“I boarded a shuttle at Kencom bus stop, but it was taking too long to fill up and so I decided to walk to KNH. Actually, I was half jogging, half sprinting,” George remembers.
When he got to the hospital, he immediately cast his eyes towards her bed. Indeed, Claris was on the bed. But she was covered with a white bed sheet. She was gone. Gone without saying goodbye. Claris had died at 1.20pm -the very same time he was looking for parking in town, having left KNH after failing to get a parking spot. George struggled to comprehend what was going on.
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