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Kenyan woman recalls shock of towel in her belly

MERU, Kenya, Feb 25 – A Meru court has been told how a towel was retrieved from a woman’s belly 20 days after she had undergone an operation.

Dr Ephraim Maina, a surgeon at the Maua Methodist Hospital told Meru Chief Magistrate Rosemary Kimingi that he removed the towel usually used to wrap surgical equipment inside the woman’s stomach after she had undergone an operation to deliver a baby through caesarean section in 2006.

Millicent Muthoni had given birth at the Meru District Hospital on April 24, 2006. However, 20 days later she went to the Maua Methodist hospital after she experienced pains in the abdomen, vomiting and lack of appetite.

She was examined and placed under treatment for two days but her condition deteriorated.

Dr Maina said the intestines had been blocked causing a big swelling on the belly while the birth wound oozed puss.

At one point, the then lactating mother vomited excretions before losing consciousness.

“We operated on her to check what was wrong and discovered a green towel. It had blocked the intestines and hindered the healing of her scar,” said Dr Maina.

A tearful Ms Muthoni, a nurse at Igembe district hospital, told the court how shocked she was on being shown the towel.

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“When the doctor showed me the green towel soaked in a bowl full of puss, I almost collapsed out of shock on learning that such a thing had been removed from my abdomen,” she told a hushed court.

The operation to remove the towel was performed days after she had delivered through the caesarean section.

Meru District Hospital superintendent Dr Justus Ngatia confirmed that Ms Muthoni had been operated at the hospital 20 days prior to the removal of the towel.

The woman has sued Dr Njenga Muraya who performed the operation for professional negligence. Also enjoined in the suit is the Attorney General Amos Wako.

But State Counsel Kariuki Kamotho disputes the witness’s claims. The hearing continues on April 14 this year.

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