Personal Stories

The Real Story Behind The Photo Of Female Doctor Who Backed Her Child While Operating On A Pregnant Woman


On the 5th of this month, medical practitioners in Kenya took to the streets demanding for an improved pay package and better working condition in line with an agreement signed by the unions and government in 2013.

Sadly, they were dispersed by the Kenyan Police, who used tear gas on them.

Bringing to fore the inadequacies in her country, Swabra Swaleh Breik, a Kenyan Doctor shared on her Facebook page, how she had to perform a surgery with her sick child on her back, while she was also pregnant and not feeling too good.

The photo went viral on the internet but many did not know why she had to do it.

According to her, there was no one to help her with her baby as all available persons were busy; meanwhile, she had to carry out the surgery to save a mother and her child.

She wrote,

I hate and love this picture because it depicts my life, to be specific my career life in equal measures.
I had my Sick and cranky son with me in theatre because on that specific call week, I had no nanny, my able nanny was at a burial. my partner was away, we worked in different hospitals hundreds of kilometers apart.

It was a weekend, so no colleague would have helped. The understaffed Olkalou district hospital has only one doctor covering the hospital every night and all weekend. no nurse would have helped carry my temi, they were engaged in labour suite, the only available nurse covering the hospital had gone for a referral to nakuru pgh. everything had worked to lead us here. I was three months pregnant. It was not the first time. this had happened severally, mostly when, like any mother, previous nannies would be overwhelmed by my call weeks.
I hate that I have my son in theatre when he should be well settled in his bed.
I hate that I was weak, tired and nauseous, and yet still yielded a knife in my hand.
I hate the fact I couldn’t refer this woman, the mother and baby wouldn’t have made it.
I love that they both lived.
I love that my nanny came back and rescued us.
I hate that, after three years of service to Olkalou district hospital the county went ahead to deny me my well deserved study leave despite sponsoring every other doctor therein with less years experience simply because, in their words, “what assurance did they have I’d return as a consultant? “.my last name is swaleh, not kamau,kinyanjui, karanja…. I was forced into a resignation.
I hate that the county is still rife with corruption, extravagance, buying Christmas trees worth 2 million each, instead of dealing with all these inadequacies, failed systems, instead of paying me my well deserved money.
I’ve neared that point where I’ll no longer care, I’ve given way too much of myself, my family, my kid, my marriage, my emotions, my health, to this failed system. Like a damaged lover who takes all the life from you and leaves you as a shell of your former self.this failed system keeps stealing my joy in this great profession.
Only the CBA can right these wrongs. It is not government pay doctors. No. For what is a full pocket if I still have to go through all these motions again?
It is, government implement the cba. Simple. I want my stolen joy restored.
Kenyans should be asking for their joy too.
Tell me how comfortable you would be seeing your pregnant surgeon carrying a cranky sick crying toddler.



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