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I needed blood transfusion during my pregnancy – doctors mistakenly gave me HIV infected blood

Worrying incident

Lilian Atieno, she says she was given HIV infected blood while seeking treatment at a public hospital (Photo courtesy of People Daily)

The poor state of the Kenyan public health sector is once again on the spotlight after a patient came out to narrate how she was given HIV infected blood after she fell sick during her pregnancy.

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31-year old Lilian Atieno is fighting for justice after the worrying incident that happened early this year when she was rushed to Sigowet Sub-County Hospital.

Atieno had complained of severe headaches and dizziness which came when she was seven months pregnant.

The doctors diagnosed her with anaemia and recommended a blood transfusion which went on successfully.

Two months later, Atieno was to learn that the blood she had received with HIV positive – just after she had given birth to her child at Rachuonyo Level Four Hospital.

She said that prior to the visit to Sigowet, she had been subjected to three routine HIV tests which are part of the antenatal clinics.

However, the one carried immediately after her child’s birth found she was HIV positive – news she found devastating.

The doctors told me the likely way I could have been infected was through the blood transfusion I had gotten the previous week and they even contacted Sigowet Hospital to question what could have transpired.

 “I was devastated, I had a bundle of joy in my hands but it did not feel like it. I thought I was going to die, that my child and I had no future,” she told a local daily.

Shortly after filing a criminal complaint at Sondu Police Station – the doctor who treated her at Sigowet Hospital approached Atieno and her husband telling them to drop the matter as it had been “a small accident”.

Together with her husband, Elisha Opiyo, Atieno went back to Sigowet Hospital to seek an explanation but the lead doctor, only identified as Lang’at, dismissed them saying “the incident was an accident and asked us not to make a big deal out of it”.

Sigowet Sub-County Hospital’s laboratory department would later pass on the blame to the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Services (KNBTS) where the blood was sourced from. The laboratory manager confirmed that the blood is not checked at the hospital level after being requisitioned from KNBTS.

KNBTS has defended itself saying the blood in their blood banks is properly screened.

Meanwhile, Atieno is taking Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), even as she hopes to get justice from the government bureaucracy.

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