When world waited with bated breath for baby Osinya
He held a scalpel in his hands and prayed to God to help him succeed in a brain operation on a baby, aware that the whole world was watching.
It was just not any operation but one that the patient was one-year-old Satrinee Osinya who had bullet lodged in his brain for about a week.
Dr Gichuru Mwangi, head of the Neurosurgical Unit at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) delicately reached for the bullet lodged 6.5 centimetres into the brain, removed it and showed it to the waiting world to the relief of all.
“When we took it out, everybody sighed. I started with a prayer and ended with another. I said ‘thank you, God we have succeeded,’ and we all celebrated,” said Dr Mwangi.
He added that he always prayed before performing a surgery on any patient.
“The bullet was about five millimetres from the midbrain. Had it gone beyond that, the child could have died,” he said.
Midbrain essentially controls hearing, seeing as well as the central nervous system.
Flanked by his navigator, Dr Julius Kiboi and his mentor Dr Chris Musau who was also the patron of Baby Satrine’s operation, he knew he had a mammoth responsibility ahead.
“We had the whole of the country and the world on our shoulders. I received calls from the US, the UK and other parts of the world before the surgery. It was like carrying a heavy burden but we pulled through,” he said.
But, with prayer, experience and a scalpel, he fought for the life of the child even as the nervous father outside was not sure of the outcome.
Dr Mwangi refused to take full credit, saying it was team work and proper planning which he said was the most difficult part of Baby Satrine’s operation.
“The father had signed the release form. I sat him down for an hour to explain the possible outcomes. He gave permission to operate on the child and was prepared for any eventuality,” said Dr Mwangi.
The planning part involved dissecting the brain to get the correct position and trajectory of the bullet.
The operation took three hours and Dr Mwangi said it was his shortest.
“Taking a short time does not mean it was easy because all operations involving the brain are very delicate,” said the doctor.
“I had never removed a bullet from a child that young before but it was not the first time I was removing a bullet from a brain. We carry out such operations, especially, on soldiers shot in peace keeping missions in different parts of Africa,” he said.