Kenyan woman in a coma gives birth to a miracle baby
On July 2, two policemen picked a woman they found in a coma and took her to Kenyatta National Hospital. They did not explain where they collected her from but medics, guided by oath of service to humanity, immediately started her on treatment.
The doctors’ preliminary analysis of the woman’s vital signs showed her temperature was very high. This in addition to her almost vegetative state indicated there was a probable viral-bacterial infection of the system that circumvents the brain and the spinal cord.
Without identity or how to contact her next of kin for her medical history, doctors named her ‘Unknown African Woman’ and commenced treatment.
Meanwhile, they hoped a relative looking for her would surface.
Due to the infection, the woman developed hydrocephalus, a condition common with newborns than adults, where a lot of fluid develops around the brain, giving the head a visible bulge and puts pressure on the brain. She was fitted with a draining shunt to channel away the fluid from her head.
As days passed and no one turned up to claim the patient, the medics decided to give her a name for ease of reference — Julie.
Through ultrasound scans, the doctors ascertained that she had a pregnancy of 22 weeks. That is five and-a-half months. She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.
Julie’s being pregnant presented the medics with a new challenge; what dosage to give for treatment while taking care they don’t hurt the life growing in her. Then, to the surprise of everyone, Julie went into labour on August 5, at 27 weeks into her pregnancy and delivered a live and fine looking baby girl naturally with the help of doctors and hospital staff.
Many will see this as a miracle given that Julie’s comatose state meant that she was effectively detached from consciousness and perception.
How did it possibly happen? Speaking to The Standard, Dr John Ong’ech, an obstetric gynaecologist and chairman of Reproductive Health at the hospital said: “In her situation, the baby was favourably small and so once her cervix had fully dilated, the baby swiftly came out. If the baby had been big, considerable problems would’ve been the likeliest of situations.”
Asked about the possibility of a Caesarian section, Dr Ong’ech said it would have required that they use anaesthesia on her, “drugs which could harbour considerable danger to her already knackered state of health.”
Because Baby Julie was born after 27 weeks of gestation instead of the normal 42, she has to be put in an incubator where she will stay until she attains the 1,800g weight mark deemed safe.
Currently, she is fed with artificial milk since her mother is not able to lactate.
Baby Julie weighed just 1,200 grama at birth. But the doctors are happy that the miracle baby they helped deliver is progressing well. They are also optimistic that she will adequately fight illnesses as she awaits her mother’s healing for that reunion between mother and daughter.
The mother is steadily showing signs of improvement.
After a month in coma, Julie was moved to a private ward where she is attended to by doctors and nurses.
Although not yet talking, she is in relative stability.
When we visited Julie, we found her drifting between sleep and awakeness. She is now able to blink an eye, subtly mime and shriek a sound in response to touch and her nurse’s questions.
Her doctors say she is responding well to medication; progress of which if she maintains she will regain full consciousness in the next couple of weeks.
As it stands now, there are chances that Julie might lose quite a chunk of her memory when she fully recovers, explains another of her doctors, Wilson Ochieng.
She might suffer a ‘time gap’ as a result of the time she’s been unconscious.
She equally stands a chance of recalling just about everything, a prospect her doctors are hoping for so that she can be positively identified.
Julie’s nurse says she can respond to language — a good sign that she’s on the homestretch to recovery.
Currently, she is fed through a tube. If she makes it back to full health, Julie’s story wouldn’t only be fascinating for conquering sudden death but also giving forth a life in her state.
The Standard will be on standby for that great moment when Julie finally wakes up and identify herself as well as give her daughter a name.
Meanwhile, we wish her well. Hers will be a truly captivating narration.