A family in Kiambu County on Wednesday puzzled friends and relatives after it held a ”virtual” burial for a son who died of cancer.
They say they were forced to resort to this because the body of Brian Kimani, who succumbed to Leukemia in February, was being held by a children’s hospital over a Sh13 million bill dispute.
With his body lying in a mortuary in Muthaiga, the family decided to use a portrait of him in its place.
A sombre mood engulfed friends and family as they gathered at St Stephen’s ACK Church in Gatuikira Village, Kiambu County, to bid farewell to their 13-year-old kin.
Brian Kimani succumbed to Leukemia after a relapse in February this year while undergoing treatment at Gertrude’s Hospital.
The original bill as at the time of death stood at Sh17.8 million. The family, through a fundraiser, raised Sh1.7 million, while his school’s contributions, about Sh650,000 from NHIF and a 10 per cent waiver from the hospital brought the bill down to Sh13 million.
Gertrude’s Hospital, however, disagrees with the family’s account of the circumstances under which the boy’s body is being kept at its mortuary.
While defending its actions, the facility says that the boy’s family had informed the hospital’s administration that it had scheduled the send-off for Friday, March 13.
The hospital said the family had promised to contact the facility a day prior to the burial with a plan on how to make payments and collect the boy’s body.
“It is, therefore, surprising that anybody would claim that the hospital has refused to release the body. The hospital awaits the family for the meeting planned for Thursday, March 12,” it said in a statement.
Dr Thomas Ngwiri, Head of Clinical Services at Gertrude’s Hospital, said it is not the hospital’s policy to detain a body over payment.
“In line with professional practice and the recent court ruling on this matter, the hospital enters into agreement with the affected parents to secure the debt and allows the family to take the body for internment.”
At the funeral, relatives and friends had fond memories of Brian who was set to join Form One this year.
They reminisced about his love for music and adventure.