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Villagers, kin want to get rid of baby without eyes

A family and villagers in Mombasa County want to get rid of a baby born without eyes and a deformed nose.

The Reroni villagers in Jomvu Sub-county were left in shock after a mother of three gave birth to the girl with a rare condition.

The villagers and kin now want to throw away the baby, in accordance with Mijikenda traditions.

Hassan Dzuya, the woman’s uncle, said the baby is a bad omen and might bring calamities to the family.

NO BREASTFEEDING

The woman gave birth at her Mireroni home after she was turned away at different public hospitals in Kilifi and Mombasa counties due to the nurses’ strike.

Mr Dzuya said the mother is afraid of feeding the baby born in the wee hours of Saturday.

“She (baby) has not breastfed since she was born. Every part of her body is okay apart from her eyes and nostrils which have abnormalities,” he said adding that the woman’s mother realised the baby was abnormal while assisting her in the delivery.

The woman used to attend clinics but stopped due to the strike.

DILEMMA

The villagers are now in a dilemma over what to do with the baby.

“Everyone is scared of the baby. They think it’s bad omen. In our traditions, when such a child is born, we take it to a secluded sacred place and leave the gods to deal with it,” Mr Dzuya told the Nation by phone.

He said he took the newborn to Port Reitz District Hospital for quick medical attention immediately it was born, but they were turned away due to the health crisis.

Mr Dzuya, a boda boda rider, said his niece and the villagers want to use traditional ways to shield the family from bad omen but they are afraid of arrest and want the government to give them directions.

PREGNANCY

Mr Dzuya said the mother had a smooth pregnancy but the baby was born prematurely at seven months.

He added that the mother used to attend clinics but had to stop due to the nurses strike as she could not afford private hospitals, adding that even at the time of delivery, she was turned down from various health facilities including Rabai Hospital.

“We wanted to take the child to Coast Provincial General hospital as instructed by doctors from Port Reitz but we don’t have means. We have gone to several private and public hospitals but none has helped us,” he said.

The child’s devastated mother was at a loss to say anything concerning her last born baby.

ANOPHTHALMIA

Anophthalmia is a condition in which one or both eyes do not form during pregnancy. When both eyes are affected, blindness results.

The child will need to be seen by an ophthalmologist, ocularist and usually an oculoplastic surgeon. The combined birth prevalence of these conditions is up to 30 per 100,000 population.

DIAGNOSIS

According to American Foundation for the Blind, Anophthalmia may be diagnosed during a prenatal ultrasound.

Alternatively, it is diagnosed soon after birth when parents and the paediatrician notice a lack of eye tissue/essentially non-existent eyeball. An MRI can confirm the diagnosis.

There is no cure for Anophthalmia, however, “conformers” (clear, plastic shapers) are recommended to be placed inside the eye socket(s) to promote proper growth and development of the eye socket and facial bones, as well as to serve cosmetic purposes.

The conformers are changed to a larger size every few weeks during the first two years of the child’s life, encouraging growth of the eye socket alongside rapid facial growth.

At approximately age two, prosthetic eyes (painted artificial eyes) can be inserted (and changed far less frequently).

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