Family holds funeral without body amid row over hospital bill

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Pupils of Jabali Preparatory School in Ruaka sing a song during a memorial service held in Gatuikira, Ndenderu on March 11, 2020 for their former schoolmate Brian Kimani Njoroge. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A family in Kiambu County on Wednesday puzzled their friends and kin after it held a ‘virtual’ burial for their son who died of cancer.

They say they were forced to resort to this because the body of Brian Kimani, who succumbed to Leukemia in February, was being held by a children’s hospital over a Sh13 million bill dispute.

With his body lying in a morgue in Muthaiga, the family decided to use a portrait of him in its place.

A sombre mood engulfed the friends and family as they gathered at St Stephens ACK Church in Gatuikira village, Kiambu county to bid farewell to their 13-year-old kin.

The deceased succumbed to Leukemia after a relapse in February this year after undergoing treatment for over five months at Gertrude’s Hospital where he passed on.

The original bill as at time of death stood at Sh17.8 million. The family though a fundraiser raised Sh1.7 million, while his school’s contributions, about Sh650,000 from NHIF and a 10 per cent waiver from the hospital brought the bill down to Sh13 million.

DISPUTE

Gertrude’s Hospital, however, disagrees with the family’s account of the circumstances under which his body is being kept at its morgue.

While defending its action, the facility says that the family of the deceased had informed the hospital’s administration that it had scheduled their kin’s send off to take place on Friday March 13.

The hospital further said the family had promised to contact the hospital a day prior to the burial on Thursday March 12 with a plan on how to make the payments and also collect their kin’s body for burial preparations.

“It is therefore, surprising that anybody would claim that the hospital has refused to release the body for a funeral service or burial. The hospital awaits the family for the meeting planned for Thursday March 12,” it said in a statement.

According to Dr Thomas Ngwiri, Head of Clinical Services at Gertrude Hospital, its policy does not involve detaining the body of a deceased over payment.

“In line with professional practice and the recent court ruling on this matter, the hospital enters into agreement with the affected parents to secure the debt and allows the family to take the body for internment.”

At the funeral, relatives and friends recalled fond memories of the late Kimani who was set to join Form One this year.

They reminisced about his love for music and adventures before his untimely demise.

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