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Baby Atabo was only one month old when her mother Mama Imana Lomongin noticed something unusual about her. Her head was swollen on one side, and a small sac-like structure protruded from her forehead. Atabo’s mother was worried and didn’t know what to do. She knew that her baby needed medical attention, but she had no idea where to turn to.

Living in Katilia village in Turkana County, medical facilities were scarce, and she didn’t have the resources to travel far in search of treatment. She took her baby to the nearby dispensary where she had given birth. The health worker there contacted the Kenya Red Cross and with their help, she was able to get her baby to Kapsowar Hospital, where the medical staff quickly realized that her condition was rare and needed specialized care.

Baby Atabo had a medical condition called encephalocele. Encephalocele is a neural tube defect in which the skull does not close completely during fetal development, leading to a sac-like protrusion of brain tissue and membranes through an opening in the skull. It is a rare condition, affecting only 1 in 5,000 births. The severity of encephalocele depends on the location and size of the protrusion and the amount of brain tissue involved.

After consulting with other hospitals, it was determined that Tenwek Hospital was the best option for Baby Atabo’s treatment. And so, with her heart heavy, Atabo’s mother embarked on a long and difficult journey with her precious baby accompanied by her brother. Because she could not speak Kiswahili or English, her brother would be a useful interpreter for her journey.

The journey from Katilia to Kapsowar Hospital and then again to Tenwek Hospital was long and grueling, taking several days on bumpy roads and through harsh terrain. But the hope of a better future for her child gave Atabo’s mother the strength to persevere. At Kapsowar Hospital, she had met a kind-hearted nurse who escorted her and her brother up to Eldoret Town and made sure they were in the right vehicle to take them to Bomet Town. 

Arriving at Tenwek Hospital, Atabo’s mother was immediately comforted by the warm and welcoming atmosphere of the hospital. She was also relieved to learn that the medical staff were experts in treating her baby’s condition. 

The staff at Tenwek Hospital quickly got to work, providing Baby Atabo with the specialized medical care she needed.  They performed a Craniotomy; a neurosurgery procedure that would correct the baby’s condition. Atabo’s mother was amazed by the kindness and dedication of the medical staff who went out of their way to make her feel comfortable and informed every step of the way.

Although it was difficult being so far away from her husband and two other small children, Atabo’s mother was comforted by the fact that her baby was receiving the best possible care. One of the hospital staff, who is also a Turkana, Joyce Lokol has doubled up as a chaplain and interpreter for her. This has been a great relief to Atabo’s mother, who had been struggling to communicate with the staff. Being a fellow Turkana, she has been able to communicate with Atabo’s mother in their native language, helping to alleviate some of her anxiety and worry.

Baby Atabo’s journey is just beginning, but with the help of the caring and dedicated staff at Tenwek Hospital, her future is looking brighter. Mama Imana Lomongin is grateful to Tenwek Hospital for giving her baby a chance at a better life and is filled with hope for her baby’s future.

The story of Baby Atabo highlights the challenges faced by families living in rural areas who do not have access to proper healthcare. But highlights the importance of having dedicated and compassionate healthcare professionals like ours here at Tenwek Hospital who are willing to go the extra mile to provide the necessary care and support to those in need. We wish Baby Atabo a full recovery and a healthy life!

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