Ebola survivor who lost unborn baby speaks out

Ms Christine Nyangoma holds her hospital discharge certificate at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Mubende District on September 30. PHOTO/DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

  • For Ms Christine Nyangoma, who had just begun the second trimester of her pregnancy, this was a trying period.

Ms Christine Nyangoma vividly remembers the time she contracted the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

The mother of three and resident of Kijjaguzo Village in Madudu Sub-county, Mubende District, was among the first cases to return a positive test for the EVD Sudan strain.

She was admitted to Mubende Regional Hospital on September 26. Straightaway, Ms Nyangoma’s intuition traced back her infection to one episode at a clinic in Madudu Trading Centre where her three-year-old son had been admitted.

“We were allocated a bed that was very dirty. I decided to use some water to clean the metal frame of the bed that had some bloody body fluids left behind by a patient that had earlier occupied the bed,” she recalls, adding, “I highly suspect that this is the place where I got the Ebola infection.”

Several patients at the clinic had died under a cloud of mystery. Ms Nyangoma’s son beat off the fever that confined him to a clinic bed for a day.

More trouble, however, lay ahead for the Nyangoma household.

Ms Nyangoma, who was listed as a contact of many Ebola patients traced back to the clinic, fell sick and was referred to Mubende Regional Referral Hospital on September 23.

Her worst fears were confirmed when a test came back positive for EVD. Remarkably, her husband and two children returned negative tests.

For Ms Nyangoma, who had just begun the second trimester of her pregnancy, this was a trying period.

While in the Mubende Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) she experienced severe malaria between September  22 and 24.

She had to be evacuated to Mubende Regional Referral Hospital.

“I was placed in a ward where most of the patients were struggling and in great pain. Several were vomiting and had severe diarrhoea. I also experienced severe diarrhoea,” Ms Nyangoma recalls, adding that not at any point did she vomit.

While in the isolation facility, Ms Nyangoma “prayed to God to give me a second chance to go back home and look after my children.” But things weren’t looking up. Besides the constant headaches she was grappling with, the deaths she witnessed first-hand were “very frightening.” Four patients collapsed in a heap right in front of her. Never to get up.

After spending a fortnight in the ETU, the medical teams started to see green shoots of recovery in Ms Nyangoma. She was soon discharged.

There was more good news when she was informed that EVD hadn’t negatively impacted her pregnancy. Unbeknown to her, dark clouds were gathering ahead.

“I was supposed to be reporting to Mubende Hospital for a medical check-up after a period of three weeks, but before the third week I developed complications that appeared to be labour pains,” she recalls.

When Ms Nyangoma returned to Mubende Hospital, she pulled out her Ebola discharge certificate after meeting several medical personnel. The response of the medics left her shell-shocked.

“The first person that held my certificate quickly threw it back to me and ordered that I get out to the entrance for disinfection. She accused me of walking into the facility and trying to expose the health workers to the Ebola disease,” Ms Nyangoma told Saturday Monitor, adding that she felt stigmatised.

She further revealed: “I later noticed that the medical teams were equally scared and that they possibly did not take time to read my document. This was a discharge certificate indicating that I was free from the Ebola disease. But after consultations, the medics later called me back. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the baby had died.”

The foetus had to be removed. After jumping the EVD hurdle, carrying her baby to full term proved a towering target. Ms Nyangoma has been keen to put the dark past behind her. She even mended fences with the medics that stigmatised her. Routinely, she returns to Mubende Hospital for medical check-ups because “I experience some back pain.”

Ms Nyangoma has nothing but praise for the vigilant Village Health Teams (VHTs) that have been trained and keep checking on her family.

“I have Milly Nabulime, one of the VHTs at Kijjaguzo Village who visits our family, and was assigned the responsibility of checking on me. Nabulime reports to the Ebola surveillance teams at Madudu Health Centre III in Mubende District,” she said.