A family in Thindigua Village in Kiambu has reason to celebrate after two relatives, who had been detained in India over an unpaid hospital bill of Sh1.9 million, were freed.
Esther Githinji, 33, and her mother Agnes Mugure, 60, arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Hinduja Hospital where they had been detained after they were unable to raise the cash following a successful kidney transplant.
The two travelled from Kenya in March hoping to have the transplant done immediately since Githinji’s sister had volunteered to donate the organ. However, it emerged that Esther’s body was not compatible with the kidney from her sister.
Her mother had donated a kidney in 2005 but it later failed.
They had to look for a family in a similar predicament and were lucky to find an Indian, but authorities would not let the exchange take place between an Indian and someone from another country.
A lobby group moved to an Indian court and won the case on behalf of Esther and the transplant was done on April 9.
All this time, they were living in a rental house and spending between Sh60,000 and Sh80,000 a month for their upkeep, besides medical expenses.
Ann Githinji, Esther’s sister, donated her kidney to Aarif Khokar, and in a reciprocal move, Khokar’s wife Sabira donated her kidney to Esther. The transplants were carried out at two city hospitals.
A week to the operation, the hospital had quoted the charges at Sh780,000 but on material day, the institution raised it to Sh1.1 million, an amount the family did not have.
After the transplant, Esther developed complications and had to have three operations, shooting the bill up to Sh1.8 million.
The money was raised after The Standard carried the story two months ago, touching the hearts of well wishers.
Esther was declared fit and discharged on March 16, but the hospital refused to release her and her mother who was taking care of her.
“I am happy to be home and that is all I wanted. It was devastating to have to live in a hospital all that while and not be able to see my family,” Esther said.
Esther was the first person to undergo a swap kidney transplant after waiting ten years to find a suitable donor; she could not find a match from any of her family members.
Her father, John Githinji, broke down as he embraced his wife and daughter when they arrived.
His daughter was diagonised with kidney problems in 2002 and the family has spent over Sh12 million in hospitals.
Mother and daughter were released by the hospital management on August 23, after they finally managed to settle the bill. They returned home immediately.
“I have been reduced to a pauper. I sold my cows and pieces of land. Now I am left with only the land on which my my house stands. I had put it also on the market but well-wishers came to our rescue,” Mr Githinji said.
In India, mother and daughter were forced to spend two nights on a cold floor in the hospital.
“I kept asking God to give us money. Even after my daughter had the transplant, she kept needing more treatment after she developed complications. I had to be by her side all the time,” Mugure said.