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Meet boy, 13, who attained top KCPE grades from hospital bed

It was emergency resuscitation that brought him back to life. He had bled so much that his body was almost giving in. The trauma seemed too much for Tamalaki Joseph Mfalme’s 13-year-old body and he was on the verge of dying.

But he made it. The resuscitation sprung his systems back to life, but what a shredded mess his left leg was! Transfused blood was going in through tubes and exiting in spurts via the badly damaged leg.

The wound was a result of a high-speed impact by a car that had flown off the road, over trees and onto a pavement where it found poor Tamalaki.

How his leg was not completely shattered, or even worse, is one of the miracles in the young man’s story. Having hit him and left him hurting, floating in and out of consciousness, the car only stopped after hitting a wall.

The other miracle is that Tamalaki, despite having spent 50 days in hospital as a result of the accident and never once stepping in class since the tragedy of June 3, 2020, went on to score 391 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams whose results were released last week.

He wrote the exam from a ward at Nairobi Women’s Hospital. He was the only candidate there and was in a room he describes as “uncomfortable”.

Freak accident

Without vital furniture, not even a table, his clipboard was his key tool and he wrote answers from his bed. That is why he has all reasons to celebrate his score, where he averaged 78.3 percent in every subject.

“There was a time I was thinking I would not sit the exams, but it has all turned out well,” Tamalaki told Nation.

“I am elated,” his father Joel Otieno said. “He has made us very proud as his parents.”

But 294 days before KCPE, the focus was on having Tamalaki hang on to life. He had gone to the sports facility at the International Christian Centre (ICC) in Imara Daima to play basketball with his sister, Ahadi, when tragedy struck at around 6.30pm.

Seven o’clock came without Tamalaki returning home and his elder sister Natasha found it strange. She would shortly afterwards receive a call from their father asking her to go and assess an injury on Tamalaki that he had been informed about.

“We were thinking it was just a small fracture,” Natasha said.

When she reached the ICC complex, she was scared to see Tamalaki’s sandals while he was nowhere around. He had already been rushed to Mater Hospital. The car was still at the point where it had rammed a wall, cutting through concrete blocks and mangling the bonnet completely.

Critically injured

It was being driven by a carwash attendant. Its owner had instructed him to drive it home after cleaning it, not knowing that this was a novice who stepped on the wrong pedal and saw the car veer off-road at a high speed.

Nothing could have prepared Natasha for the injury she saw on her brother’s leg. After his condition had reasonably been stabilised, he underwent an x-ray scan that showed that his head, spine and organs were fine. Only the leg needed attention. Luckily for Tamalaki, an artery that usually runs along the left leg was intact.

“We stayed there till 1am when Tamalaki went in for his first surgery, and that was the beginning of so many surgeries,” Natasha said.

Medics later assessed the leg and decided not to amputate it, and famous plastic surgeon Ferdinand Nangole has been attending to it. He spent 49 days in the ward, lying on his back without room to turn to his side.

Sh3.5 million later, the leg is far from recovered. It still cannot support walking, meaning he is still grounded. The leg also needs special dressing every two days.

But as far has his studies are concerned, Tamalaki is lucky that his parents organised for private tuition. That, coupled with online classes he attended at Kitengela International School, covered much ground in terms of the syllabus.

“We hired private tutors for him,” his father said.

Good grades

When others in the class of 2020 will be joining Form One, Tamalaki will be at home. He plans to spend the entire 2021 away from school.

“He is still a very long way from walking and attending school,” his father said. “I will request the school that accepts him to give him a one-year sabbatical to help him heal physically, mentally and psychologically,” Mr Otieno said, thanking God for sparing his son’s life, and also the medics who had attended to him.

“I ask well-wishers to assist us financially. His treatment is very expensive, and he is still due for three major corrective surgeries whose cost will run into millions of shillings,” said the father.

Tamalaki wishes to be a pilot when he is done schooling. His best performed subjects were Kiswahili and English.

“I thought I would get good marks because I’ve been revising most of the things,” he said.

Asked what the experience has taught him, Tamalaki said: “You can do anything when you put your mind to it.”