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Giving Birth in Kenya: Negligence During Delivery Cost my Son His Good Health


This has got to be the saddest and most emotional article I’ve read in a long long time. It is titled: ‘Ultimate Sacrifice of a Mother’s Love.

The article is by Betty Muindi, as originally published here in The People Daily newspaper.

**I was lucky to have a smooth pregnancy and faithfully attended all prenatal clinics. I was healthy and energetic even as my day of delivery neared. I ate healthy and read a horde of magazines and books on antenatal care to ensure I did the right things.

I counted days to my expected day of delivery, but the events of August 30, 2011, a week to my delivery day changed my life forever. How can I ever forget this day? I walked to Jamaa Mission Hospital for my normal antenatal visit at around 7.30am en route to work. I was not in any pain or discomfort. This was a normal check-up in preparation for delivery date.

As I lay on the examination table, one ‘Dr Wangwe’ exclaimed, “Aah your birth canal has opened! I see no need of you carrying this pregnancy anymore. I will send you to the maternity ward, they will induce labour and you will have your baby today.”  “What? I don’t even have my baby clothes and I still have to report to work! “I retorted. “Tell your husband to bring the clothes, this baby must come today,” he replied conclusively.

This was my first pregnancy. I had no idea what had just happened. I walked to the wards still not in terms with the sudden change of events, but there seemed to be nothing I could do. I was shown a bed and as soon as I lay on it, a nurse induced my labour. “Please press the bell by your bedside if you need anything,” he said and left.  Two nurses checked in for night duty and that is where my nightmare began.

I laboured the entire night; I was helpless, desperate and at one point vomited on my bed. This earned me a thorough tongue-lashing and they warned me not to ring the bell again until I saw blood or water! I will never forget their faces.  The doctor came to see me at 8am the following day and when I told him my pain had disappeared, he burst my water and lined a drip on both of my hands.

Shortly after, contraction pains intensified. At 9am, there were signs of baby coming, the nurse injected more medicine into the drip to increase the contraction. “That pain is not enough to push the baby,” she said and left. She came back again at 1pm and injected more medicine into the drip. I felt like my skin was being peeled off.  At 5pm, my husband came and could not take it anymore, I was still in so much pain and my birth canal had not opened an inch.

We demanded for a Caesarian Section, but there was no doctor available to take me to theatre. They could not refer us to another hospital either because we needed a doctor’s referral note, yet there was no doctor on sight.   After an hour of pushing, finally the ‘doctor’ came at 6pm. I asked him to take me to theatre but he refused. “Ruth, you are going to push this baby whether in labour or not.”

He called one of the male nurses who pressed my womb with his elbow while he forced me to push the baby. Barely 15 minutes after, the baby came out.  “My baby has not cried… My baby has not cried,” I remember crying. The doctor pulled the baby up and said, “Have you seen what you have done to the baby?” This is when I looked and saw the sex of my baby. It was a boy, ‘Thank God’ I said to myself.

But wait a minute… my baby’s head was severely pressed on the sides. “Ruth look at what you have done to the baby,” the doctor kept repeating. “But you forced me to push the baby while my birth canal had not fully opened,” I cried. I saw the doctor injecting my poor baby with some medicine perhaps to trigger some pain so he could cry, but nothing happened. He was then put on oxygen to help him breath and placed him in an incubator.

I only smiled when my husband came to the ward and told me our baby was the biggest, light skinned and the most handsome in the nursery, but he was in the incubator shivering. He weighed 3.3 kilogrammes. When I was finally able to see my son, he had not stopped shivering, blood oozed from his mouth and he laid on soiled beddings in the incubator.  On the second day after delivery, his condition had not improved and we asked for a paediatrician to tell us why he was that way, but there was no in-house paediatrician.

Hours later, a man called Dr Kyalo from Metropolitan Hospital arrived — his name also appears in the birth notification slip — and assured us that the baby was stressed due to prolonged labour and he was just tired and in no time, he would come along. We believed him.  But then my hopes were dashed again when on the third day another nurse disclosed that our son was in a bad state and that his condition would not improve in the incubator.

She advised we take him to a hospital with an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We called hospitals with an ICU in vain until midnight when one nurse told us that she had secured a place for him at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and that we needed to hurry. But then, we could not leave the hospital. We had to clear the hospital bill first, but only when the cashier arrived the following morning!

We were boiling with anger, I was crying so hard in fear of losing my son. My husband and his brother almost turned physical before the nurse agreed to carry our son to the ambulance. We finally arrived at KNH but again they were not expecting us as no one had called to book us in. The ICU was full and we only got a bed at 3pm the following day. After two hours in the ICU, a jar of meconium and amniotic fluids was removed from my baby’s lungs and his condition was critical.

The doctor said that the damage could have been minimized if Jamaa Hospital had his nose and mouth suctioned to remove mucous and fluids from his lungs immediately after he was born and not three days later. He insisted he needed a medical report from Jamaa. At Jamaa, my husband would only be given the report in exchange for payment of the hospital bill, which had sky rocketed to Sh 60,000 and only revised to Sh 32,500 after he protested.

He paid the bill but to his shock, they refused to give him the medical report. The matron said that the person they had told us was a doctor was only a nurse dressed in a doctor’s coat and that she could not give us a report.    My baby stayed in the ICU for a month, and when he finally opened his eyes, he was transferred to nursery still under close supervision for another month.

When we asked the doctor why our child could not cry like the rest, he broke the bad news, “Due to prolonged labour and administration of too much Pitocin (the drug for inducing labour), your son inhaled meconium and amniotic fluids and suffered a birth asphyxia. Your son suffered severe brain damage, which means he will require support 24/7 for the rest of his life. Your son is a special child now.” I could not believe it, I went into denial.

My dreams had been crushed, my son’s future had been stolen, my desire of having a normal child shattered. I had lost my son to severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy and asthma. Going home with a special child after two months in hospital was not easy. The neighbours talked ill of us. I was ashamed to go out and I felt I didn’t belong to this world. I took my son for therapy thrice a week for 10 months at Sh500 per session.

It became too expensive for us because he also needed occupational therapy, which cost Sh500. That was Sh5,000 a week and since we could not afford it we couldn’t take him anymore. My son feeds from a tube stuck on his chin. He is blind, deaf and dumb and has never been able to sit at the age of two years eight moths. He is also not able to swallow foods. We were never prepared for this; the painful seizures, difficulty in breathing, sleepless nights, therapies, recurring ailments due his low immunity, which mean rushing him to hospital two to three times a week.

He is in pain every second of his life. He can’t live without anticonvulsants and antibiotics since his chest is still very wet. He has pneumonia that keeps on recurring due to his wet chest, he coughs and sneezes every minute. We have been emotionally and financially drained. I have gone to every school I know including Dagoretti Special School to secure him a space with no luck. He needs to be somewhere he can get therapy every day.

I have never slept since my son was born, because he needs to feed every two hours. If he is not feeding, he is either in convulsing or coughing. Morning comes when we are still seated and I still have to report to work. He gets comfortable when seated. The biggest challenge has been house girls who leave him alone and disappear while am at work. I look at Neville everyday and feel so sad to think how different his life could have been if we had been cared for properly.

Today we are here two years eight months down the line because of God’s grace and prayers of people have prayed for us every time we shared Neville’s story.**



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Maryanne W. Waweru is a Kenyan mum raising her two sons in Nairobi. A journalist, Maryanne is passionate about telling stories and hopes that through her writing, her readers learn something new, feel encouraged, inspired, and appreciative of what they have in their lives. Maryanne's writing focuses on motherhood, women and lifestyle. "Telling stories is the only thing I know how to do," she says.


  1. My heart bleeds after reading this. At some point I could no longer read on as I could not hold back the tears any more. The height of negligence and appalling unprofessional-ism and indifference in medical staff in some hospitals can not continue unchecked! Something has to happen. May God give this family all the strength they need…

  2. I have read this story but was unable to complete it……my eyes are teary and my abdomen started aching from nowhere. Lord have mercy!

  3. I wonder how many other mothers have suffered at the hands of the doctors and nurses at that hospital and at similar understaffed medical establishments that are out to make money rather than provide the best medical care possible?

    We need to be more litigious as a society because even though suing the hospital will not right what has happened, it might stop someone else from suffering the same fate. Someone needs to be held responsible for this otherwise it will just continue happening across the country.
    This is not God’s Will or the child paying for the sins of a past generation… this is outright negligence!

    Sorry for the long rant, I’m just so heartbroken and angered by this 🙁

  4. Hang in there Ruth. we share the same story although this time round its my nephew. we took him to Circles Academy and his growth has been amazing. it may cost an arm and a leg but its definitely worth it

  5. this just reminded me where i was two years ago. i also knew soo little about labor, birth and all that as i was a first time mom. having labored for 15 hours n my baby inhaling the said meconium she ended up in the ICU. i remember saying a silent prayer when i touched her body which was getting colder n colder n her body turned bluish color. it was soo painful watching het struggling to breath with her mouth wide open.to cut the long story short my baby is now an angel in heaven. i feared going thru the same ordeal but i cast all those fears to God n entrusted Him thro my secong pregnancy journey n delivery n was blessed with a baby boy on 4th april. Ruth, our God knows it all, dont question for He has a reason to everything

  6. Where is that hospital located? You shouldn’t be talking about it on blog posts till now. That Doctor, nurse, whoever they are should be in JAIL now.
    If you say its ok and that we understand, other worse things could have happened to many others.

  7. This is the same hospital where my god-mum was diagnosed as having pneumonia that was drug resistant meanwhile all along it was breast cancer that had metastasized to the lungs.. of course by the time she was correctly diagnosed she was already in stage four and died as a result…

    The Kenya Medical and Dentists Practitioners Board should be held to account since they are the oversight authority… This substandard doctors are always being protected by this Board!

  8. I lost my daughter 2 days after birth due to negligence after my baby got asphyxia from prolonged labour. She would have been 8 months now. The madness i went thru in Mater Hospital only God knows. RIP my angel and Ruth hang in there all will be well.

  9. This is the saddest story I have heard in a long time. And even though yours must be much more,I feel your pain and hurt and have had a share of your tears. But as long as we are living in this world, we will always come across the horrible influence of satan. My prayers are with you and remember God feels your pain too, believe me there will be a time when he will act on your behalf(deut32:35)For now pray and
    Keep loving your son each day All that matters is that he is in your lives now and that he can see you love and care for him despite all the trouble you have to go through. There will come a time when you will not need to suffer anymore (rev21:4)
    Stay strong!!

  10. dear Ruth
    we share a name,and I am going through what you are.my son has cerebral palsy because of birth asphyxia.he is 9 months now but he is doing what a 5 month old baby would do.mine is a long story.the occupational therapy is heartbreaking to watch.it is financialy draining.the doctors say he is blind,bt I choose to believe in miracles,because he has some slight vision.my story goes on and on.it is heartbreaking.
    I want to encourage you to be strong for your son.he is special.God selected you among the many to be his mum.do not give up.God does not give you a situation that you can’t handle.There are many of us who are going through this.you are not alone.i will pray for you my dear sister.look at your son and focus on the things that he is able to do.not what he can’t.he will get there.it just takes longer than usual.Be patient and pray.May God give you peace.it is hard,i know.bt rem you have to be strong for your son.

  11. Mama Neville…God sees you and your family…He knows the pain you go through as you take care of Baby Neville..He still loves you all so much and His thots about you are precious…the devil is a liar!Neville’s destiny wasnt stolen..no..he shall live like a victor to bring God glory…the very fact that he suffered all that ordeal.and still lives.It is God!its hard not to have very hard feelings towards the midics but may God shed His love on you and may the medics know how much they did to baby..may God touch them too..you are so strong and brave God is happy with your role as a mother!!!!be blessed .pliz share your number

  12. Dear Ruth , i have a nephew with the same condition due to prolonged labour, he is 05 yrs now we”ve bn undergoing therapy ever since , by the grace of God he can now sit show signs of eating i believe in God please love and take care of him lyk any other normal child , show him love thats the most important thing . Dont give up you are not alone just pray .

  13. Ruth this is a heartbreaking story which has become so common in our hospitals.I pray that the Lord will give you strength and all that you need to raise Neville but I also pray that through Neville’s story situations will change in our hospitals, that our medical staff will change their attitudes towards mothers during delivery. Any journalists out their who can air this story will be working towards ensuring that these cases are reduced…… God help us.

  14. Gosh this is so sad. Mama Neville you’ve made it this far and God will give you the strength to keep loving and caring for your son. He is also an angel from heaven.
    This said something needs to be done urgently to prevent this kind of situations. Recently a friend delivered at a missionary hospital, and her baby didn’t cry. She was told the baby was too big but they were not aware since they didn’t perform any ultrasound before, as she should have delivered through caesarian section. She was rushed to another hospital. Some nurses seemed overwhelmed by the sheer number of mothers (up to 3/4 sharing one bed), others didn’t care; a mother gave birth by herself while two nurses were just chatting a few feet away yet she was screaming her lungs out. Other nurses wouldn’t give any information; whenever my friend asked about the medication her baby was getting she would be told ‘Hata tukikuambia huezi elewa’. Fortunately she was finally moved to the private wing where she experienced a quality of service and care completely opposite to the one in the public wards. But how about those who can’t afford the private wing? How many babies will have to become cripples before action is taken?

  15. Author please email me with contact details of this wonderful mother. I would love to help I suffered a similar fate 5yrs ago.

  16. morrismosesfoundation.org

    Please contact them . In as much as it won’t bring back his health, they should be sued enough to cover the expenses they are putting you through. im really sorry. i have recently discovered that my child is special because of using a vein on his head to administer medicine.

  17. I am simply mortified by the negligence of this hospital and the way they handled the delivery. My gosh!!!! Mama Neville, believe in miracles. This hospital should be put to task over this. They shouldn’t be left off the hook. Am sure there are more horrendous stories of mothers without a voice. May the good Lord give you Strength.

  18. you are a great mum continue loving en caring for your son i also went through the same last yr en our baby went to be with the Lord and we were left with a million plus hospital bill coz of ICU charges for 3wks but God came through for us trust in Gods word He knows why and he has the best plans for you Jeremiah 29:11 and also in 1st corr10:13 God will help u handle this and you will be a victor to testify His glory through this situation.

  19. this really breaks my heart,please be strong for your baby and love him more,he is so beautiful.i lost one of my twin girl at birth in , a private hospital supposedly one of the best hospitals in kenya who kept me waiting for 15 hours trying to convince me that i should be induced yet one of the babies had not turned and eventually had to take me for cs when i refused to be induced but unfortunately one of my baby was dead.i still belive they should have operated on me immediately since my waters had already broken by the time i went to that hospital.

  20. My heart is broken, But Ruth ur a strong woman, God is in control. Ur boy is blessed and will be well one day…..God is in control, be strong for ur boy!

  21. am in tears….its so sad en painful…..God giv u strength Ruth to push on.the bible says He watches evrydin thats hapenin’ here on earth en i believe 1 dai u will share laughter in Jesus name.

  22. This is indeed a very touching story. Incase anyone would like to get in touch with Mama Neville, her number is 0722 926 249. Let’s all learn from her experience and share this information with all those around us. We salute you Mama Neville for sharing your story. Thanks.

  23. 30th Aug, 2011. Exactly 2yrs 8m when my son was born. I was induced at a private hospital I wish not to disclose. What I went through in the hands of nurses and nurse aids are heart stopping. My son was finally delivered, but with a DARK umbilical cord. When I asked the nurse akaniambia its normal. So many mothers go through difficult moment especially in the labor and delivery room. It takes a strong heart to share such stories.
    Mama Neville don’t give up. Mungu halali

  24. am very sorry for what happened,God hears the voice of the voiceless,take heart as we all share in your moments of sadness

  25. That is so painful and heartbreaking…may God forgive those involved.Take heart everything happens for a reason and I pray that God gives you the strength and capability to take care of Neville…He is a faithful God and surely baby Neville is a gift and a blessing.Never lose hope!

  26. This infuriates me to see certified medical doctors who are playing with mothers and children life.. they are heartless and full of themselves and think that since they are ‘THE DR’s ‘ they are untouchable.. they forget there is a God who see and does vengeance on these wailing hearts i just feel soo sad to read this.. May God give all of mamas strong hearts and ways to raise these little ones and to those who suffered loss may God comfort now and 4-ever.

  27. This is truly sad. We are with you in prayers. Always remember a child belongs to God and is a miracle in his own right. That being said, i am so sorry you went through something to traumatic Ruth. I just dont understand why a nurse would be wearing a Doctors coat. Those are grounds to sue the hospital. Please lets not keep quiet about this. Many mothers are having such horrific delivery experiences in hospitals. It is your right as a human to be given good service at any medical facility. It is our right to complain and bring such people to book when a childs life has been put at risk. I am tired of friends telling me nurses were ignoring them or chatting when they were in agony during delivery. No this must stop. If we can, let us get the media involved to do a Human interest piece on television. I think citizen should pick this story up as “Strength of a Woman”. Maryanne may i contact them to do this story? Please let me know

  28. Thanks for the reply Maryanne. I shall contact her and see if she would be willing to share her story before i contact Citizen…Wait there was a Woman who was slapped for Messing up a hospital floor after delivery??? nooooo 🙁 Gosh!! such horror stories made me so scared when i went into delivery nearly 4 months ago. We need to enlighten women about their rights once they enter a hospital to deliver, especially in emergency situations. Most of us new mums are clueless and nurses take advantage of that. i ahd a horrible experience at Gertrudes last week with my baby girl, but thats a story for another day…Maybe i can write about it here as a Guest blogger/writer…

  29. I wish you can share your story with us at Nation as Ruth shared hers. Perhaps by highlighting more of these cases, we can get something done and stop further heartaches. How do we contact you?

  30. Oh my God..am so saddened at the height of negligence, greed and lack of passion in people’s professions. This Dr. Wangwe guy seems very arrogant and full of hime self, the statement, ‘I will send you to the maternity ward, they will induce labour and you will have your baby today’ is so casual, like its over the counter service, ooh Lord please have Mercy on us and teach us to take our responsibities more seriously. To Ruth, we cannot exactly really tell what you are going through but only God can and he is a God of Miracles and He sure has plans for you and your family.

  31. Pole sana Mama Neville! God will surely see you & your family through this. Saw my baby sister in labour n couldn’t take it no more! She laboured for 18hrs but by the grace of God she was able to deliver a bouncing baby boy 3.6kg! I only laboured for 4 hrs! Thank you to the amazing team at Nrb Women’s Hurligham branch.

  32. this story is so sad. can’t help myself from crying. what your going thru mama Neville is so hard. Be strong. God has a reason for everything

  33. Not Jamaa of all hospitals, I never expected that, there’s nothing in this world that never hits back. I really pray for baby Neville n there’s nothing impossible to God, so just have faith Ruth, I thank God your hubby accepted the situation, may you all be Blessed abundantly, n I assure you today that God shall show his worth in your house n give HIM your all, let HIM handle you the neighbors and all that have mouths to backbite you, My tears can’t just stop rolling down on just having to think about your pain.

  34. pole sana Ruth…am very sorry for what happened and what you are going through….am even speechless ….this story has really broken my heart.my labor was induced too.am praying for you….take heart.be strong for the sweet angel.we are here for you **sob** :'(

  35. Pole sana Ruth, am in tears after reading your story. But God has a reason for everything. Baby Neville will one day grow up and say, thank you mama for your love, care and sacrifice. may the Almighty God reward you for this sacrifice and patience. Never give up, God has a lot in store for you. This is a test from God.

  36. This is really heartbreaking, the saddest part is that these events would have been avoided if not only it was because of the negligence of the doctors or nurses, I know of a lady who went through the same just last year, she went to a private hospital after vomiting blood when she was nine months pregnant and the doctor or intern or nurse on tht night shift told her that she would be fine two days later she went back to the same hospital after her baby stopped kicking and she was induced and told that her baby died as a result of her being anaemic now she fears getting pregnant

  37. Hi Ruth, nothing we post here can ever make you forget what this cruel world did to you and you son. I only have one thing to tell you. I do not know if you know the Mighty God of Israel who parted the red sea as His children crossed over to the promised land. His name is Jehova Rapha the greatest physician. If you are not born again please receive Christ Jesus then surrender your child to Him totally and let him have his way. Through faith, your child will receive healing and become normal just like you wanted him to be. He used to raise the dead and He has never changed. There is nothing that is too big for God you know, and try as much as you can to let everything go, do not hold anything against those people for it is not them but the devil who was working in them. May God bless you and your son and bring physical and spiritual healing to your household, Amen.

  38. sis,how handsome is that boy,i mean it precious gift from God.The devil is a liar ruth.My friend almost lost her baby in the same hospital.But you know what ruth God is very faithful.That boy will and is a testimony.I love you ruth for your strengh and love neville even more.

  39. Very sad indeed, childbirth is an emotional time, potentially one of the happiest moments of your life. Medical negligence can take all that away in one fell swoop. Wrongful birth is a catch-all legal phrase for any situation where a child is born with birth defects. There are huge legal implications from this as it means parents are forced into making major life-changing decisions with massive cost implications should they decide to rear the child. A successful compensation claim is hugely crucial here as it can really help alleviate the burden.

    • Jesus give mum neville strength and please fight all nevilles battles.surrender all to him and you will see how his glory will manifest.

  40. Oh no. That is just horrible. That hospital should be sued, so that they at least cater for those expenses.
    May the Lord give you the peace and His comfort. That must’ve been difficult.

    btw, that piitocin used to induce and augment labor, is it always necessary? Nowadays it’s common practice. It’s almost impossible to have a non medicated birth. I recently had a Cs and before they took me to theater,they gave me a dose of pitocin, when I asked what that was, all they said was ” in ha kutoa huyo mtoto haraka” after which they said my pelvis wain’t opening and that the baby’s head wasn’t descending. I wish they could give mums proper information


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