I met Patrick Karubiu in one of the Facebook groups that I’m in –one for parents of special needs children. He particularly caught my eye because of the dedication he seemed to have towards his four year old daughter who has cerebral palsy. Thankfully, he agreed to share his story with me and invited me to his home in Dandora to meet his family that includes his wife Susan, his daughter Princess and his son Prince. This is Patrick’s story*
When Patrick Karubiu received news from his girlfriend that she was pregnant, four years ago, he was ecstatic. He was 27 years, and had a well-paying job at a bank and therefore felt ready to settle down and start a family.
It was a smooth pregnancy for Susan Kuria, and so was the birth. Their daughter, Princess Gathoni, weighed a healthy 2.7kg. As Patrick held his first child in his arms that day, he knew that his life would never be the same again.
“The love I felt for her was overwhelming. I was now a father, and I was aware of the huge responsibility that comes along with this title. I committed to taking care of my daughter and provide her with the best in life,” he remembers.
Three days after being discharged from hospital, the couple’s joy however turned into worry when they noticed something not quite right with Princess.
“When I offered her my breast, she would not suckle. She stopped crying or making any movements and would just lie still. Her urine was a strong yellow, her eyes started yellowing and so did her body,” says Susan.
At birth, Princess had scored a 10/10 Apgar score, the first test given to a new-born, to evaluate his physical condition and to determine whether there’s immediate need for emergency care.
This development therefore deeply worried the young couple. They immediately took Princess back to hospital, and after a series of tests, they were informed that their daughter was suffering from a condition known as jaundice.
“They told us that jaundice was common in newborns, but that hers was severe,” says Patrick.
For the two weeks that Princess was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital with her mother, Patrick visited them daily.
“I would wake up early in the morning, prepare breakfast for Susan, then take a matatu from our Kariobangi South home to KNH. I would then stay with them for a few hours then leave for my mother-in-law’s place in Dandora to collect Susan’s lunch and dinner. I would then rush back to KNH and stay with them until evening.” He adds.
When Princess got better and was ready for discharge two weeks later, the doctor warned them that she would probably have impaired sight and hearing.
“Despite the doctor’s words, we nevertheless hoped that she would completely recover and go on to live a normal life,” remembers Patrick.
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*I originally published this story in the Daily Nation here.