KENYA: Family’s pain after misdiagnosis cuts short daughter’s vibrant life

May 2017 DailyNation; Doctors told her she had brucellosis and ulcers and for months, 26-year-old Violet Judith Awuor took a cocktail of drugs.

In one of her last Facebook posts, Awuor — known as Vio to friends — recounted her pain.

“I was misdiagnosed very many times and that is why I ended up here,” she wrote.

“I took drugs for different diseases that I never had till my gall bladder was strained. This made my bile duct to constrict. Bile from the liver could not reach my stomach where it was supposed to be drained.”

She has now paid the ultimate price and left her family with hospital and mortuary bills of more than Sh1 million. Her body is still detained at a city morgue.


“After the misdiagnosis, my daughter continued throwing up. She had a high fever and severe stomach pain. She was also jaundiced and her eyes were yellow,” said Awuor’s mother Grace Aoko.

Awuor’s gall bladder could not store bile properly. It meant doctors had to insert a temporary catheter to drain the liquid from her stomach.

“The first catheter cost Sh50,000, and we paid before the surgery. It came off three days later and the doctor told us to raise Sh400,000 to get a permanent one. That was beyond our means,” said Ms Aoko, a single mother of four children.

As the family and friends struggled to raise the Sh400,000, Awuor’s stomach kept swelling. They thought she would get better.

It all began with a simple walk to a health centre in Nairobi’s Lucky Summer Estate.


It was almost her 26th birthday and Awuor was complaining of endless stomach pain.

Medics at the hospital concluded she had brucellosis, a disease caused by the bacteria Brucella.

When the drugs failed to relieve her pain, Awuor returned to the health centre where she was told she had ulcers.

From January to March, Awuor would skip her new job, taking time to rest and take the ulcer drugs.

In April, her two university friends — Ms Agatha Kalekye and Ms Winnie Mukami — insisted that Awuor visit MP Shah Hospital for a second opinion.

That is when she realised she had been misdiagnosed with brucellosis and ulcers.


A scan revealed that the young woman’s problem was in her liver, not stomach.

Awuor’s family and friends could not afford her admission to MP Shah so they took her to Avenue Hospital where she underwent a CT Scan, ultrasound and a biopsy.

Results? She had stage four liver cancer.

Ms Aoko and her relatives believe if doctors at the first hospital were keen enough, they would have referred Awour to a bigger institution instead of second guessing and treating wrong ailments.

Sadly, six days later, after another operation, Awuor’s condition grew worse.

She complained of severe stomach pains and was put in the high dependency unit where she died hours later. That was on May 8, a month after the cancer diagnosis.


Awuor is described by friends as vibrant, outgoing and with a big heart.

“She was magnetic. She loved people and people loved her. She was also a member of the Theatrix acting group. I did not know she had such a big number of friends until she got sick,” Ms Kalekye said.

Awuor even found humour in her condition, shown by the playful WhatsApp messages she sent to Ms Kalekye in her last days.

She did not consider herself sick but merely “bedridden”.

“She was full of jokes, but deep down, Awuor was strong and determined to fight,” said Ms Mukami.

Since Awuor was only two weeks into her job, her insurance cover was not ready so she had to depend on the National Hospital Insurance Fund and well-wishers to pay for the operations, blood tests, scans and hospital bills.


Almost two weeks after her death, Awuor’s body is lying in the mortuary at Avenue Hospital.

The institution is demanding Sh1 million in bills.

Family and friends are attempting to raise money through a WhatsApp group “Friends of Vio”. So far, they have raised Sh250,000.

Ms Kalekye, Ms Mukami and others are hoping to raise the Sh1 million in order to give their friend a befitting send-off, worthy of her character and selflessness.


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