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Police probes Mulago over baby theft

By Vision Reporter

Added 29th May 2010 03:00 AM

Rehema Nakuya, 25, strongly believes she delivered twins. But when she woke up from a Caesarean operation at Mulago Hospital, she was presented with only one baby.

Rehema Nakuya, 25, strongly believes she delivered twins. But when she woke up from a Caesarean operation at Mulago Hospital, she was presented with only one baby.

By Gladys Kalibbala
Rehema Nakuya, 25, strongly believes she delivered twins. But when she woke up from a Caesarean operation at Mulago Hospital, she was presented with only one baby.

Nakuya told the Police she had a scan showing she was expecting twins, but the hospital insists the scan was fake.

Unhappy with the way the case was being handled at Wandegeya Police Station, Nakuya appealed and this week, the Kampala Metropolitan Police headquarters took over the investigations.

“We have called Nakuya’s file from Wandegeya for proper management of investigations,” said Henry Kalulu, Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson.

Nakuya, who lives in Kalerwe, a Kampala suburb, developed labour pains in the wee hours of June 2, 2009 and got to the maternity ward at Old Mulago at about 4:00am. It was her second pregnancy.

This is her story:
One of the two midwives I met examined me immediately and advised me to go to New Mulago as I would be better off there.

They quickly provided an ambulance and one of them sat with me, holding my file, until around 5:00am. there was no doctor. A few minutes past 5:00am, the midwife returned to her station.

She left my file in the care of someone putting on a green uniform. She gave the file back to me as soon as the midwife left, saying I should show it to any doctor who came.

I and other expectant mothers were not attended to until about 1:00pm when a group of young doctors, who looked like students, who came in. A greenish fluid was coming out of me and this worried them.

They called in a senior doctor, who suggested I be put on drip to get labour pains.

The group also commented about my enlarged abdomen and swollen feet, wondering if the stomach was just big or if I had twins.

Unfortunately, I had not moved with the two scans which were done at two months and eight months, which had shown that I had twins.

After I was put on drip that afternoon I was picked at midnight to be taken to the theatre when I could no longer stand or speak. My mother and father had arrived by then.

When I came back to my senses, it was around 6:00am the following day and I was in Ward 5B. I immediately asked my mother to show me the babies. She replied that they had not brought any baby yet.

My mother told me that all the women who had been operated on had been brought back with their babies, except me.

This threw me into unconsciousness as I thought my babies had died because I had been in labour for so many hours.

By the time I recovered, it was about 8:00am and they had only brought one child. The nurse who brought the baby girl did not mention a second baby. I was worried about the whereabouts of my second child and I became unconscious again.

When my husband arrived, he was more concerned about saving my life than looking for the baby. I was discharged on the June 5, after three days, with only one child and without the medical forms I had used during antenatal care.

Where is the baby?
Nakuya explains that in October 2008, when the pregnancy was two months old, she had a scan done at NRSL Health Care near the entrance of Old Mulago Hospital, which showed she had twins.

As the pregnancy progressed, she continued visiting both Mulago hospital and Mengo Doctor’s Clinic in Katwe.

The owner of the clinic, Hajati Hamisi Kabanda, who is also a medic, says she first saw Nakuya when she was about four months pregnant and after checking her she suspected she was expecting twins.

She recommended a scan but because of lack of money, she did it at around the eighth month.

When the scan showed two babies, she advised Nakuya to make sure that she delivered at Mulago hospital. “I could not allow her to give birth in my clinic because such a case could get complicated,” she explained.

Kabanda said in early pregnancy, a scan can show twins but later one foetus dies and gets dissolved, but in this case the scan was in the eighth month, so that could not have happened.

Couple gets misunderstandings
Nakuya’s husband, Bengo explains that although he was disturbed by the disappearance of the second baby while still at the hospital, he played it cool because his wife was in bad shape.

He concentrated on paying the medical bills, but a week after she was discharged, he demanded an explanation.

“I suspected her of having played tricks with the other child. I could not believe she had one baby when the scan had shown twins.”

But later he apologized.

Bengo strongly believes that his wife was pregnant with twins because his family has a history of twins. His elder brother, Sula Lukabwe and the younger one, Asuman Ddamulira of Makindye had twins.

“In the Baganda culture some rituals are performed when you produce twins but in this case I don’t know what to do! My wife also dreams of the other twin calling her and asking her to find her ,” Bengo states.

Mulago’s defence
The hospital, however, insists that the twin story is a creation of people who want to spoil its name.

Mulago issued a statement saying Nakuya produced the one baby who was handed over to her.

“She was using a dubious ultrasound scan where the image of the foetus was frozen twice to give the false impression that there were two babies in the womb,” said the statement signed by Executive Director Dr. Edward Ddumba.

The statement cited two earlier cases of women who claimed their babies had been stolen from Mulago, but Police investigations established that they were telling lies.

On this basis, the hospital argues that there is a group of people with a mission to malign the hospital.

“We work under difficult conditions with congestion of patients and limited resources. Nevertheless, we try our best to deliver services professionally,” Ddumba stated.

Dr. Josephat Byamugisha, the head of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics department at Mulago, said there were many sub-standard ultra-sound facilities near Mulago hospital, whose results cannot be trusted.

Some of them send agents to the labour wards to solicit for clients without the knowledge of hospital authorities, he said. “We don’t believe in the professionalism of the people working in them.”

Records at Mulago indicate that indicate that Nakuya first reported to Upper (Old) Mulago at 05:50am as per her file 1561/09, and a midwife checked her.
She had attended antenatal care clinics there four times from January to April and records show that she had no complaints.

However, Nakuya has a photo showing swollen legs during her pregnancy.
According to Byamugisha, Nakuya’s file gave no indication that she was carrying twins, adding that they would have referred her to Lower Mulago.

“We don’t have doctors in the labour ward at the upper hospital, so all cases referred to as complicated, like the one of twins, are handled in lower Mulago,” Byamugisha explained.

He adds that when Nakuya reported for delivery, the midwife noted that the foetus had irregular heartbeats, which forced them to transfer her to lower Mulago as a high risk case.

It took long to work on her because of congestion in Mulago, he said. He said the hospital delivers 70-90 babies a day on average, and on some days the number exceeds 100.

Byamugisha further explained that a baby girl weighing 3.6kg was delivered by caesarean operation.

Nakuya, he said, was checked by over 15 health workers from the time she reported for antenatal up to the time of delivery, but none of them made a diagnosis of twins in any of their reports.

She never had any ultrasound scan done at Mulago hospital because there was no need for one, Byamugisha added.

The department has its own scan which is free, but due to the big number of pregnant mothers they receive, they only recommend it for cases suspected to be complicated.

Although it was not recorded in the file why Nakuya took long to see her baby, doctors explain that the baby had to be monitored for sometime.

Byamugisha says there is no way a Mulago employee could steal a baby during the delivery process because it involves many health workers.

“You need about seven or more people in the theatre for such an operation and there is no way one of them can snatch the baby without others noticing.”

Nakuya persists
But Nakuya and her husband say they would be mad to engage in the kind of falsehood that Mulago describes. In any case, they did not rely on a scan from only one place.

They are pushing ahead with the case and plan to go to court when Police concludes investigations.

One of the doctors who carried out the scan is ready to testify.

Police probes Mulago over baby theft

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