Stephen Mogusu :: “I contracted the virus… sasa niko (I am now in) self-isolation…I have never seen death this close in my life.”
These were some of the last words he would piece together before coronavirus overpowered his body. That message was sent to this writer (Leon) about three weeks ago.
A week later, he gathered some strength to respond to a WhatApp text asking how he was faring, and although he was still undergoing treatment, he was optimistic of his outcome. And so he wrote: “I am not feeling very well, we can continue once I get discharged.”
On Monday, at about 15 minutes to 4 pm, news came in that Dr Stephen Mogusu’s body had given in to Covid-19, which had ravaged his body and seeped so deep into his lungs that even an experimental treatment could not save him.
His friends and colleagues had spent the better part of Sunday evening rallying for a special kind of a blood appeal, one that would see fellow doctors treating him with convalescent plasma therapy that they had hoped would be the final Hail Mary.
But this was not to be, because just like other colleagues before him, Dr Mogusu had been taken to the Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) a little too late. It is an experimental therapy that a number of medics infected with Covid-19 have received while undergoing treatment locally.
The treatment method, which was authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration for people with Covid-19, uses plasma that is removed from the blood of a person who has recovered from the disease, and is then transfused into a patient still battling it.
Mogusu’s doctors received three pints of blood on Monday afternoon and as the plasma was being prepared, the team lost him.
“We tried to resuscitate him but it was too late. Also, he was brought in too late last night after three weeks of battling the virus,” said a doctor who was managing him.
No salary, insurance
Dr Mogusu was one of the 200 medical doctors deployed to counties five months ago under the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme to serve county Covid-19 isolation facilities. Like his colleagues, he had not received a salary for the five-month he served his duty station in Machakos.
The young father of one also did not have medical insurance despite working in a high-risk centre which predisposed him to getting infected with the very virus he was fighting. Unfortunately, his colleagues added, when Dr Mogusu tested positive for the virus three weeks ago, there was no bed for him at his duty station, forcing his family to get him admitted to a private facility in Komarock where his condition deteriorated to a point where he had to be transferred to KUTRRH on Sunday night.
And so, at only 27-years-old, the young doctor who had put the needs of patients he was serving at the Machakos Level five Hospital ahead of his, could not even afford to pay for the very health services he offered. At the time of his death, he had accrued a bill of Sh1.5 million.
“The family of Dr Stephen Mogusu a frontline soldier who is battling for his life in ICU due to Covid-19 Complications is appealing to Kenyans of goodwill to contribute for his urgent medical expenses…The sad reality of our doctors,” wrote Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda on Twitter, an hour before Dr Mogusu succumbed to the illness.