The four-month-old baby who was allegedly detained by Roswell Women and Children hospital over unpaid medical bills has been reunited with his parents.
Bridgers Alinda Mugenyi and Saloome Aturinde sued Roswell Women and Children Hospital Limited last month for retaining their newborn baby. Through their lawyers, the couple claimed that the hospital's actions treated their baby as a commodity, which they deemed inhumane, cruel, and degrading.
The couple alleged that the hospital even threatened to sell the baby to Sanyu Baby's Home. They further noted that the hospital prevented the mother from breastfeeding or providing pumped breast milk to the child, raising concerns about health risks and the mother's distress.
Today Friday, Aturinde received her baby after civil division judge Esta Nambayo received results from the Government Analytical Laboratory (GAL) showing that she and Bridgers Arinda Mugenyi were the biological parents of the baby.
The results were brought before the court by Musa Kirya, a senior government analyst. Kirya told court that on September 1 the directorate of GAL received an order from the court requesting DNA testing between the alleged parents Aturinde, Arinda, and the baby.
The court also heard that the director gave the head of the forensic biology unit a go-ahead for the test and the hospital paid Shs 750,000 in the bank. The samples were then taken from the baby, Salomme and Bridgers. He said that this was witnessed by eight individuals, and among them were staff from Roswell hospital.
They were Israel Joel Kindadaire, Christopher Ocom, Juma Kayondo, Joyce Nanteza, Enock Bakwate, Gerald Sunday, Edward Damba, and Soleya Nakato the baby caretaker.
“After taking the samples, I did DNA analysis on the samples, and the findings I made two conclusions. First, the results from the analysis strongly support the proposition that Arinda Bridgers Mugenyi is the biological father of the Baby in question. Secondly, the results from the analysis strongly support the proposition that Atulinde Saloome is the biological mother of the baby”, Kirya told the court.
After analyzing the results, Nambayo told the caretaker to hand over the baby to the mother who broke down. She immediately changed the baby's clothes. Nambayo adjourned the case to October 17 for cross-examination of witnesses of both parties who swore affidavits in the main suit.
The family and their lawyer Geoffrey Turyamusiima have welcomed the decision. The parents sought general damages for the violation of their constitutional rights and freedom from inhuman, cruel, and degrading treatment. According to the provided evidence, on May 7 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. Records indicate that the hospital informed the parents they could only leave after settling the medical bills, which were presented on May 11 amounting to Shs 5,210,000 for the mother and Shs 4,367,000 for the baby.
Although Mugenyi partially paid the bill on May 15, the hospital reportedly refused to release the baby to the mother. The case revealed that despite the initial unpaid bill of Shs 4.3 million, the amount accumulated to Shs 16.2 million as of May 27, 2023.
In August, the hospital’s lawyer, Semakula Mukiibi, clarified that the baby was not with Roswell but with Loving Hearts Baby’s Home. He explained that the baby was born with respiratory complications and managed at the neonatal section due to being born prematurely.
He attributed the current situation to media sensationalism. Mukiibi further noted that they had contacted the baby’s grandfather, who believed the baby had died. Roswell allegedly reported a case of baby desertion to the police, leading to the involvement of the Kampala Capital City Authority’s probation officer, who placed the baby in a safe location.
Following these arguments, on August 30, Nambayo ordered the hospital to bring the baby before her court.