20 May 2018

Kenya: The Baby Who Survived Solai's Killer Waters

Photo: Ayub Muiyuro/The Nation
Jane Akur with her child Patrick Wekesa at Bahati Sub-County Hospital, Nakuru County, on May 18, 2018. Both survived the Solai dam tragedy.

From the mud covering two-month-old Patrick Wekesa's body and the way he looked after being rescued following the May 9 Solai dam tragedy, no one could think he was alive.

Moments after the water from the ruptured dam swept away people and property, rescuers discovered Baby Patrick tightly strapped on his mother's back, his entire body coated with mud and foam covering his mouth and nose.

The rescuers were sure the little angel had not survived. But seconds after, he began releasing more foam from the mouth and sounded as if he wanted to cry.

CONFUSED

When he was rushed to the Bahati Sub-county Hospital for emergency medical attendance, the nurses were confused. They could not even tell the baby's sex.

"His body was covered with mud, to the point that I could not even see the face or tell whether it was a boy or a girl," Ms Jane Wanyoike, the nurse in charge of the hospital, told the Sunday Nation.

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Besides, he had bruises all over his face, arms and other parts of the body -- an autograph of the raging waters and the sharp debris.

Even his mother Jane Akur, who was totally still while he was still tied to her back, could have been presumed dead. But she was only unconscious.

RESUSCITATED

Mother and son were separated as medics fought to save him, thinking the mother was dead. Miraculously, the mother was found to be breathing. She was resuscitated and reunited with her son.

"The baby was brought here alone and was admitted to the nursery section. Later we learnt his mother was alive and, after attending to both, we reunited them," the nurse said.

Baby Patrick, who reached his two-month mark while at the hospital, has gone through hell. But he is still strong, smiling and pushing on with life.

"The next day I was taken to the theatre and, after seeing my baby, I did not believe it was the youngest of my children who had survived. It was the most unexpected thing. It made me forget all my pain," she said.

LOST MEMORY

When the tragedy struck, she wanted to save all her children but they could not all fit on her back. Having secured Baby Patrick, she held one child tightly in her arms while her husband held the other.

"When we opened the door, we heard the house collapse as we tried to save the children. But the waters sent us in different directions. This baby is the only one I am left with," Ms Akur said.

As the furious waters cascaded downstream, she held tightly onto a tree that had withstood the currents. The tree was a few metres from her home. That act saved two lives on a night when 47 died.

But it came at great cost. Ms Akur was severely injured on her left leg. She sustained bruises on the face and arms, and temporarily lost her memory.

The mother and child are still at the sub-county hospital, receiving treatment. Her husband was also lucky to survive, but with injuries.

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