, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 25 – George Ojwang is a flustered but hopeful man.
For four months, George has been spending hours by the side of his wife Claris who has been unconscious since delivery of their baby Henry.
The couple had made all preparations to welcome a second baby, but events unfolding after the birth of his son have turned his life upside down, turned bliss into melancholy.
I met him on Monday at the Aga Khan University Hospital, after a consultation session with doctors moments before his wife was wheeled in for her 13th operation in four months.
“My wife had an easy pregnancy just apart from the normal hiccups during pregnancy. There was no abnormality detected in the last two clinics, the doctor said that it was normal to have swollen feet and we were told that she should have maximum rest until he due date,” recounts Ojwang.
Things took a turn for the worse on February 15 when he got home from work to find his wife unusually exhausted. George recounts that in the night his wife could barely sleep although she insisted that she was fine.
He says: “She did not come to bed with me immediately, but when she came she hardly slept and kept moving in and out of bed. I slept due to her insistence that she was fine. She even woke up early morning to prepare breakfast.”
The next day, however, George says he was called by his sister-in-law saying Claris had started convulsing and was sweating profusely.
Because he was in town at the time, George asked a neighbour to rush her to the Nairobi Hospital where doctors said her blood pressure had shot up.
The gynecologist who had seen her through her first pregnancy and now to the second pregnancy recommended that she be taken into theatre for a caesarian section to remove the baby.
The doctor insisted on the emergency procedure, saying it was important in order to save the lives of both mother and baby.
“She had vomited at least four times, what I saw was scaring. Her body was shaking all over, she wasn’t talking and her body was literally hot. But what scared me most was the pronouncement by the doctor that we have to try and save a life,” he says.
Claris has been unconscious since. The once jovial wife with whom George had a blossoming relationship has been confined to three rooms, the theatre, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the High Dependency Unit (HDU).
Claris who is about to turn 27 years has undergone 11 operations after the delivery, the latest operation being last Monday.
The initial operation was to remove a blood clot on her brain. Many of the subsequent ones have been done to deal with the bacterial infections to the brain.
“Before they went to theatre I was explained to the complications that might arise including incapacitation of up to 72 weeks, I got so worried but that was told it had to be done,” he recounts.
All the head surgeries have been conducted by the renowned neurosurgeon Dr Livingston Oluoch-Olunya who also operated Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga in 2010.
“I have sought second opinions from other friends who are doctors and they insist that she is in safe hands with the top most of surgeons, and all I do is pray for her daily,” he says stressing that he at times losses count of the operations.
It has not been an easy four months as he has had to juggle between his work as a salesman and the parenting role for his two children as well as the debt of over Sh12 million he owes Nairobi and Aga Khan Hospitals.
George insisted that despite the four month wait he still has hopes of seeing his wife again with the family and that he still believes that God the ‘chief physician’ is in control of the situation.
“Ever since the night she was uneasy I have never heard my wife talk, I have only seen her look at me and wink, at times try to move but she has remained silent in her bed in HDU,” says George. “I have now to be the father and mother to my boys the elder one who will turn three years next month,” he adds.
“For a strong woman like my wife the best that I can do for her is to hope she will be fine and that’s why I have been in the hospital with her daily, the doctors are treating but God is going to heal her,” he says looking reassured.
The condition that led to Claris current situation is attributed to phenomenon medically known as pre eclampsia.
It is termed as the most common of pregnancy complications; it may affect both the mother and the unborn child.
It’s most visible sign is blood pressure elevation although it also involves generalised damage to the kidneys, and liver, with the release of vasoconstrictive factors being secondary to the original damage.
Dr Kiragu a gynecologist says that the condition is one of those common disorders of pregnancy that is looked out for during antenatal visits.
“Pre eclampsia mostly occurs in women who are expectant but starts in the second trimester, the expectant mother will have body swelling in areas other than the legs. If further tests are done then leakage of proteins will also be found in urine,” says Kiragu.
“It could come between clinic visits but in practice we advise mothers on the danger signs to look out for especially abnormal weight gain and severe headache.”
He says despite the high pressure experienced by the expectant mother, an anesthetist is able to lower it to a level at which a CS can be performed.
The mode of delivery for mothers having Pre eclampsia is dependent on the severity and a CS is highly recommended in cases where the delivery is urgent and the baby has high chances of survival.