Amref Flying Doctors evacuates Kenyan woman with knife lodged in her head

Amref Flying Doctors personnel attend to Fatuma Ibraham. (Photo: Amref Health Africa)

January 8, 2016 – Amref Flying Doctors yesterday evacuated a woman with a knife lodged in her head after she was stabbed by her husband in the remote and arid Wajir County in Northern Kenya. Amref Flying Doctors is Amref Health Africa's air ambulance service staffed by both paid and volunteer medical and aviation professionals.


Fatuma Ibrahim, a 32-year-old mother of four, was attacked by her husband on the evening of Wednesday, January 6, following a domestic argument in their home in Khorof Harar village. Relatives took her to the Wajir County Hospital with the knife lodged deep into her jaw, but the hospital was not equipped to handle the extensive injury. Fatuma needed an Ear Nose and Throat specialist, an Intensive Care Unit and a maxillofacial surgeon, which the hospital did not have. 


Yesterday, concerned members of the public in Wajir began making appeals on social media for help, with the hashtag #JusticeForFatuma quickly trending. In the afternoon, Amref Flying Doctors received a distress from the Wajir Hospital asking for help in evacuating Fatuma to Nairobi for specialised treatment. A team was quickly mobilised for the charity flight and by 3:30pm, a Cessna Caravan piloted by Captain Samuel Patet was airborne from Nairobi for the two-hour flight to Wajir, about 500km from the city.


Volunteer doctor Kate Stoddard and Amref Flying Doctors flight nurse Charles Atemba received the patient in Wajir and kept her stabilised during the flight back. On arrival at the Wilson Airport at 8pm, Fatuma was quickly transferred to an Amref Flying Doctors ambulance and taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital, where the knife was successfully removed. She is in stable condition and will spend a few days at the hospital as she begins her journey to recovery.


Amref Health Africa Group CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi, and Chief Medical Officer Dr Joseph Lelo, were at the Wilson airport to receive Fatuma on arrival from Wajir. Dr Gitahi emphasised the importance of County Governments planning for medical emergencies.


“There are always cases of patients who require specialised treatment in the counties but they often cannot afford to pay for evacuation. We are happy that we were able to provide this service to Fatuma free of charge as part of our social responsibility, but this is not always possible because of cost. Amref Flying Doctors already provides an emergency cover for the administration police, defence forces and senior civil servants. We are willing to work with the counties on a package that will ensure all their residents can receive this service whenever they need it,” he said.


He praised the Amref Flying Doctors team for their quick action in getting Fatuma safely to Nairobi and wished her quick recovery.