A Kenyan couple living in the US is in grief after losing their 8-year old daughter who has been battling debilitating injuries for three years after a road accident.
Felix Nwaigwe Oduor and his wife Keisha Odour lost their daughter Bella Achieng on January 31 at 8:53pm.
Bella had been fighting to regain her brain status after the accident but it never happened. Her treatment financially drained her parents as they had to sell their property including a house to get her advanced treatment.
Despite moving 1, 500km away from the place they called home-Maryland, Baltimore to be close to their daughter who was bed-ridden at a hospital in New Orleans, and spending Sh10 million to see their daughter get better, she passed on.
Little Achieng’s body was cremated on Thursday in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family carried the ashes to Maryland where they will hold a service and a funeral afterwards.
Oduor who hails from Siaya County travelled to the US in 2000 on a Student Visa. After completing his studies, he secured a job with Amazon-owned enterprise, Whole Foods Market.
He later met his wife Keisha who was born in the US and tied the knot in 2008. Achieng was born a year later.
However, in 2014, December 8 precisely, the family was involved in an accident on the way to Achieng’s school-Rosedale Baptist School in Maryland. Her younger sister Layla Odour was also on board.
“Maryland usually gets cold and icy. Because of the ice, the car skidded to the other lane. A car coming from the other side hit them on the side where my wife and Bella were seated. Layla was on the other side,” Odour recalled according to Nairobi News.
Layla escaped unhurt. But her mother broke her two legs and fractured her left hand.
Achieng however, bore the blunt of the accident as her neck was severely injured during the accident. “They call it hangman’s fracture. The neck almost came out,” her father said.
Her two bones that connect the skull to the spine were affected. Much worse is that she suffered a heart attack on her way to John Hopkins Hospital which led to her brain damage.
Here doctors told him she would only live for a maximum of 48 hours given her condition and extent of injury.
But she lived on and doctors hived off a piece of bone from her hip and inserted it on her fractured neck. She went into a coma for a month but in the end, she managed to open her eyes.
Her parents later took her to Pediatric Rehabilitation Unit of Krieger Institute in Baltimore. “She was there for two months and started showing signs of improvement. They helped her to finally get out of a breathing machine and breathe on her own,” Oduor stated as further told by Nairobi News.
They later heard of a doctor who performs oxygen therapy which involves giving a dose of gas to wounded people to speed up their recovery in New Orleans and they temporarily moved there.
“…the first time we did this treatment, she had more improvement than we‘d ever seen before. She was moving her hands and legs; she was looking aside.”
After a year, she had improved and they took her home. She moved around in a specialized wheelchair but could not talk since her brain had not regained its functionality.
But, Odour noted “We had to change her diapers when she relieved herself. And when she slept, she could not turn herself. Every two hours every night, we had to turn her.”
A few days to her last breath, her parents asked doctors to remove a tube inserted on her throat known as trach tube.
“We decided with the doctor that we would take it out because there was no need of it being there. And. Actually, that was the real cause of her infections,” he said.
He described Achieng as a “happy child.” “Everyone knew her. Nobody knew us. Everybody knew us as Bella’s parents.”