UTERUS REMOVED

Agony of losing the ability to give birth

A surgery to save Bendetar Makaa's life also turned it upside down, but the hospital denies any wrongdoing

In Summary

• Makaa's uterus was removed after placenta left during C-section rot and infected it

• Now infertile and incapacitated, she wants Mumbuni hospital, doctor held to account

Bendetar Makaa speaks at her Kisole village home in Mwingi Central subcounty on September 30. She is with her children Brian Kimanzi (left) and Elias Kyalo
Bendetar Makaa speaks at her Kisole village home in Mwingi Central subcounty on September 30. She is with her children Brian Kimanzi (left) and Elias Kyalo
Image: Musembi Nzengu

When we visited Bendetar Makaa, 36, in Mwingi Central, Kitui county, her two sons were busy helping her with domestic chores.

Elias Kyalo, nine, multitasked as he made tea on the gas stove and swept the area surrounding the house. And Brian Kimanzi, 12, returned from looking for two lost calves and delved into mopping the house.

“I am helpless and hapless," Makaa said at her home in Kisole village, Waita location.

 
 

"I have been reduced to relying on my young children, who are out of school due to Covid-19, to carry out duties I could execute effortlessly in the past. When they are away in school, I will have to hire a house help to do these simple house tasks for me,” Makaa said.

 
 

At a casual glance, the mother of two can pass for a strong and healthy woman, but looks can be deceiving. She cannot do duties like fetching water, washing clothes, tilling the land, sweeping, mopping the floor and carrying lightweight luggage.

Makaa’s eldest son Brian Kimanzi mops the house on Wednesday
Makaa’s eldest son Brian Kimanzi mops the house on Wednesday
Image: Musembi Nzengu
I cannot remain in a bending or standing position for long because of the excruciating back and abdominal pain that comes with it
Bendetar Makaa

During our interview outside her house, Makaa casts a long, forlorn look into the horizon and mutters about how she used to be a bubbly, energetic woman, who could do many chores with ease.

“That is not any more. When I try carrying out such duties, my back and abdomen hurt a lot. I cannot remain in a bending or standing position for long because of the excruciating back and abdominal pain that comes with it,” she said tearfully. 

Her troubles began on July 3 last year, when she was six months pregnant. She experienced severe bleeding and was rushed to Mumbuni Maternity and Nursing Home in Mwingi town. She underwent a C-section a little over a week later, on July 11. 

“The hospital messed me up,” she says.

“The botched operation not only left me barren but I now have difficulties meeting my conjugal obligations. What is really expected of me now that I am given to oozing a foul-smelling discharge from my private parts?” 

 

Her condition is so bad that at times she finds it hard to hold back urine.

But what pains her the most is that she has become infertile and cannot conceive, although she is yet to hit menopause. She had longed to have at least four children.

Makaa shows her garden, where she previously used to personally till and build terraces
Makaa shows her garden, where she previously used to personally till and build terraces
Image: Musembi Nzengu
The medics told me I will never conceive again. I want to see action taken against the doctor and the institution for that irreparable damage
Bendetar Makaa

FORMAL COMPLAINT

So in the end, she was hit by the triple tragedy of losing her child, losing her uterus and becoming incapacitated.

The lengthy treatment that followed has been financially draining and left a huge hole not only in her pocket but also in her entire family's financial reserves.

At the time she underwent the operation, she was running a successful saloon and hair dressing business at Kamuwongo near her home. Post-surgery complications resulted in her closing down the business.

Due to the hardships she was facing, however, she resumed business in August. Doctors at Embu County Referral Hospital, where her condition is currently being managed, cautioned her against being in a standing position for long, so she relies entirely on hired hair stylists.

Early this year, Makaa, launched a formal complaint with the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council against the Mumbuni facility, a private hospital, over the botched operation.

She complains the doctor who performed the C-section procedure negligently left the placenta inside the uterus as he sutured the wound.

Shortly afterwards, she says, she developed complications as the placenta began to decay. She says she got a hostile reception at Mumbuni as her condition deteriorated.

A relative offered to take her to Embu County Referral Hospital, where it was discovered that the rotten placenta had affected the uterus, which had to be removed.

In seeking justice from the KMPD Council, Makaa wants the council to find Mumbuni hospital culpable for the permanent body defects it caused her through negligence and order the facility to pay for their offence as the law stipulates.

Makaa wants punitive action taken against the doctor for making her infertile. She is also demanding compensation from the private hospital. Her complaint is also recorded at the Mwingi police station under OB number 37/21/11/2019.

“The medics told me I will never conceive again. I want to see action taken against the doctor and the institution for that irreparable damage,” she said.

Bendetar Makaa shows some of the ultrasound scan images that showed she had a decaying placenta in her uterus
Bendetar Makaa shows some of the ultrasound scan images that showed she had a decaying placenta in her uterus
Image: Musembi Nzengu

HOSPITAL’S RESPONSE

As we went to press, the KMPD had already commenced preliminary investigations into Makaa’s complaint against the hospital, which in turn had filed its defence and categorically denied any wrongdoing.

On September 7, KMPD council CEO Daniel Yumbya wrote a letter to the hospital, seeking a response to complaints lodged by Makaa. The hospital was told to respond in four days. It was the second time such a letter was sent to the hospital after the first one, dated February 27, went unanswered.

“The council is in receipt of a complaint from Bententar Makaa Mbwau against your institution dated February 18 . You are hereby required to submit the following to the council before close of business on September 11,” read part of the second letter from KMPD council signed by Yumbya.

The hospital was cited for negligence during an operation and failure to remove the placenta from the uterus, among other complaints. The hospital has been asked to provide details of the medical team that attended to the patient.

Further, Yumbya demanded certified and paginated copies of the entire patient’s file IP NO: 2992, as well as any other relevant documents and information.

Makaa says she went to the hospital for emergency treatment of complications and the doctor decided to remove her pre-term baby. The operation was conducted but the placenta was left in the uterus as the wound was stitched.

Medical records indicate the placenta started rotting in the uterus, leading to another operation at Embu County Referral Hospital, where the uterus, which had been irredeemably affected by the rot, was evacuated.

I delivered the placenta, exteriorised the uterus, cleaned it and sutured it in layers
Dr J Ndirangu

Results of ultrasound on Makaa in mid-September at Embu show the placenta was still in the uterus two months after the operation in Mwingi.

“Patient was taken to theatre. Ex lap [exploratory laparoscopy] was done. Sub-total hysterectomy and D/C was done successfully,” reads part of the patient discharge report from the Embu hospital, from where she was discharged on September 16 last year.

Responding to inquiries from the KMPD Council, Mumbuni hospital director Jane Munyua defended the facility. Munyua denied that anything untoward happened during the operation. She said Makaa was in good health when she left the hospital after being discharged three days after the C-section.

Munyua said Makaa had gone to her hospital bleeding excessively and with breathing difficulties. She said a male foetus was delivered through the C-section, although it died 20 minutes later.

Supporting the director’s affirmation, Dr J Ndirangu, who performed the procedure, denied leaving the placenta inside the uterus.  

“I delivered the placenta, exteriorised the uterus, cleaned it and sutured it in layers,” he said in his statement to KMPD council.

WAR OF WORDS

Earlier, after receiving the September 7 letter from the KMPD Council, Munyua had vehemently denied knowledge of the council's letter to her hospital dated February 27, but said the one for September 7 arrived and was speedily acted upon.

“They had called us in August and the lady asked whether we had received their letter by email. When we informed them we had not, they sent us a hard copy, which we received in August,” Munyua said.

She said he was surprised that Makaa, whose life was saved, had gone ahead to revive a case that had already been settled and closed.

“We had a meeting with the patient, her husband and two brothers. My husband was also present and we arrived at an agreement to put the matter to rest. The revival of the matter baffles me and is strange,” the director said.

But Makaa said the hospital authorities were economical with the truth both in their response to the KMPD Council and information given to the media. She said during the meeting with the hospital authorities, they were rude and unremorseful. “They told me I will never get justice,” she said.

Makaa said she had adequate evidence to prove the botched operation left her barren and badly incapacitated. She said she had already done a rebuttal to the KMPD Council disapproving the hospital's claims, and she hopes justice will be served.t

As Makaa waits for justice with fingers crossed, she is haunted by the loss of her uterus and ability to give birth. Her dream to bring forth at least four offspring remains just that: a dream.

Edited by T Jalio