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How late Nyagah was kept alive for three days by medical device borrowed from KNH

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Late former Cabinet Minister Joe Nyagah’s younger brother Norman has revealed how a medical device used in his treatment at the private Nairobi Hospital was borrowed from the Kenyatta National Hospital.

Joe died at the Nairobi Hospital on December while receiving treatment for Covid-19. He was buried yesterday at the family home in Mbeti South Ward, Mbeere South constituency, Embu County.

Speaking at the funeral ceremony, Normah relayed the countdown leading to Nyagah’s passing at age 72. “I get a call from Nairobi Hospital and I am told he needs a high-flow nasal canal set, and its only available in Kenyatta National Hospital. It was taken to Nairobi Hospital and Joe was using it by 9 0’clock. And for the last three days, it made him survive.”

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A high-flow nasal canal set improves oxygenation for patients experiencing acute respiratory failure. Besides COVID patients, its used on patients experiencing respiratory illnesses including pneumonia, asthma, and bronchiolitis.

The revelation by Norman shines a spotlight on the difference between public and private hospitals, in terms of infrastructural outlay. That a device can be lacking at a pricey, exclusive hospital but is found at a public hospital that’s frequented by the down-trodden speaks volumes.

A man demonstrates the use of a high-flow nasal canal set. The device improves oxygenation for patients experiencing acute respiratory failure. PHOTO/COURTESY

Ironically, Nyagah was first admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital but was transferred to Nairobi Hospital when his condition worsened. He reportedly responded well to treatment before a cardiac arrest took him.

“We got a team of good doctors but Joe suffered several cardiac arrests all lasting between 4 and 5 minutes,” Norman said. “When the doctors called us informing us that we needed to be at the hospital to make a decision we knew it was time to bid him farewell.”

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Nyagah’s eldest son Mwaniki Nyagah urged Kenyans to take Covid seriously. “Coronavirus is real, we never took it seriously but we have seen it with our own eyes,” he said. “My father was physically strong and walked 10 km every morning but covid took him in four weeks.”

Among those who attended the burial in Embu were Deputy President William Ruto, National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi (who was taught by one of the Nyagahs), ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, and his counterparts Sicily Kariuki (Water) and Najib Balala (Tourism).

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