The High Court in Kampala has ordered for DNA tests on a baby who was retained by Roswell Hospital over medical bills.
On Wednesday, the four month old baby was brought to court as earlier ordered by Justice Esta Nambayo. When the child was brought in court, the parents Saloome Aturinde and Brigders Rogers Mugenyi broke down in tears.
Aturinde told court that she can’t remember whether that was the baby she gave birth to since the baby was taken away from her immediately after birth.
Last month, the couple dragged Roswell Women and Children Hospital Limited to court for retaining their newborn baby.
In their petition through their lawyers led by Christopher Ocom and Geoffrey Turyamusiima, the couple said that the hospital’s actions have turned their baby into a commodity, which they consider to be inhuman, cruel, and degrading.
They claim that the hospital even threatened to sell the baby to Sanyu Babies home. According to the parents, the hospital prevented the baby’s mother from breastfeeding or providing pumped breast milk to the child.
They are also concerned about the potential health risks associated with not breastfeeding and the distress faced by the mother.
The couple is also requested general damages for the violation of their constitutional rights and freedom from inhuman, cruel, and degrading treatment.
Evidence presented to the court indicates that on May 7th, 2023, Mugenyi accompanied Aturinde to Roswell Hospital when her amniotic fluid started flowing. Aturinde had been receiving antenatal care at the same hospital. A cesarean birth was recommended, and the baby was placed in the nursery for further care.
The records indicate that the hospital informed the parents that they could only leave after paying the medical bills that were presented on May 11th, 2023, amounting to 5,210,000 Shillings for the mother and 4,367,000 Shillings for the baby. Mugenyi paid the outstanding medical bill on May 15th, 2023. Despite the payment, the hospital reportedly refused to release the baby to the mother.
They also state that the hospital threatened to sell the baby unless payment is made and their actions have caused distress to their family that they even took the national identity cards and that the mother was later diagnosed with Depression, Postpartum, and Psychosis.
According to the case although the unpaid bill was 4.3 million Shillings the money accumulated and as of May 27, 2023, it was at 16.2 million Shillings.
On Wednesday, Justice Nambayo who seemingly looked angered with the hospital questioned why they retained the baby and not the parents.
Roswell Hospital lawyer, Semakula Mukiibi explained that the baby was born a premature and asked the Judge to deal with the case knowing that there are emotions and worries.
Earlier, Mukiibi had told the court that the baby is not with Roswell Hospital but with Loving Hearts Baby’s Home. He said the baby was born with respiratory complications and managed at the Neo -natal section having been born a premature.
According to Mukiibi they contacted the grandfather of the baby who said he had been told the baby had died. He added that and Roswell reported a case of baby desertion with police who then involved Kampala Capital City Authority’s Probation Officer who took the baby to safe place.
When Aturinde told court that she cannot identify the baby, court ordered for a DNA test to ascertain paternity. According to Nambayo, the Hospital will meet the costs of the tests.
Justice Nambayo said that the DNA should be done at the Government Analytical Laboratory-GAL at Wandegeya and the results be produced in Court on September 5th 2023.