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Head of Catholic Doctors in Kenya Mourned as Passionate Pro-lifer, Strong Defender of Life

Late Dr. Stephen Kimotho Karanja

Catholic doctors and social activists in Kenya are mourning the passing on of Dr. Stephen Kimotho Karanja, describing him as a man of strong conviction and a defender of the sanctity of human life.

Dr. Karanja served as the national chairman of the Kenya Catholic Doctors’ Association (KCDA) until his death on Thursday, April 29.

A Nairobi-based social entrepreneur and volunteer at the Secretariat of Catholic Members of Parliament in Kenya broke the news of the death of Dr. Karanja in a WhatsApp group that had been created to rally for funds towards the treatment of the medic who had been admitted at a Kenyan hospital.

“Thanks for your prayers (for) SK Karanja. Things aren't looking good at all but with more Masses and prayers and the team work the doctors are exhibiting, he will get out healed in about 3-6 weeks in ICU,” reads the WhatsApp message shared with ACI Africa.

The message is followed by another announcing Dr. Karanja’s passing on, “It has just been confirmed that we have lost Dr. S. Karanja... Eternal rest grant unto your servant O Lord, let your perpetual light shine unto him and may his soul rest in peace.”

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Dr. Wahome Ngare, a member of the KCDA announced the admission of Dr. Karanja in hospital on April 20, calling on the people of God in the country to offer prayers for the recovery of the medic.

The announcement established that Dr. Karanja had contracted COVID-19 while attending to his patients despite having underlying health issues, an act that was described as selfless.

“Our Chairman, Dr Karanja is admitted in HDU in Mater hospital due to complications of COVID-19. He is not young and has co-morbidities yet he never left the frontline and has diligently continued taking care of his patients including relatives with COVID-19 like a true medical soldier,” Dr. Ngare said.

He added, “He (Dr. Karanja) is in serious but stable condition and in very good able hands. Kindly keep him in your prayers as that is the best we can do for him at this point in time. Mary Help of the sick, pray for us. St Joseph, pray for us. St Luke, pray for us. St Stephen, pray for us. Amen.”

Those who knew the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist have described him as a mentor in the medical field, a man of great family values, one who is worth emulating for standing for what he believed in.

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“Dr. Karanja took it upon himself to mentor me since we had the same specialization and also because we both uphold strong Catholic values in the profession,” Dr. Njoki Fernandes, a Nairobi-based Gynecologist told ACI Africa.

She added, in reference to the deceased medic, “He was very passionate about what he believed in and he lived whatever advice he gave to others.”

Dr. Fernandes shares that her colleague was passionate about his patients as well, always going out of his way to help them whenever he was needed, even when it meant sacrificing his personal time.

The late vocal medic is known to many for his strong convictions on matters of health, which he passed across in his short video clips that were circulated on WhatsApp and other social media platforms especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

Until his hospitalization, Dr. Karanja became especially known for his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine and the pro-choice advocacy, describing those who advocated for abortion in parliament and in health facilities criminals and calling for their arrest.

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Dr. Karanja came out a very controversial character, attracting strong support and opposition in equal measure, especially when he cautioned Kenyans against taking the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine, which he labelled unnecessary, useless and potentially “extremely dangerous.”

In one of his interviews with ACI Africa, Dr. Karanja questioned the quality of the vaccine, which he said had been rushed.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is unnecessary because in the history of medicine, vaccines have never been and can never be part of controlling a medical epidemic… A vaccine can never be produced in one year,” the late medic told ACI Africa last month.

He explained that the vaccine is dangerous because it was a genetically modified product, which he said had not been tested.

In a separate video, Dr. Karanja maintained his strong opposition to the vaccination, which had kicked off in the country, saying that those who were against the vaccine meant well for the people in the country and in other African countries.

“I do not know how I can say this clearer on behalf of KCDA members to the people of Africa and especially to the people of Kenya. This vaccine is not a vaccine,” Dr. Karanja said in the video that was widely circulated.

In the same video, he called upon Africans “to rise up” and to reject the vaccine he said was going to be injected into them.

In her interview with ACI Africa April 29, Dr. Fernandes said that the late doctor always meant well for the people.

“Dr. Karanja was a strong defender of human life. He always meant well and even when he appeared controversial, one could see that he had a genuine desire to help,” she said.

A number one pro-lifer, Dr. Karanja was part of the Linda Vijana Initiative (LVI) team, providing medical advice to the young people through the organization that addresses youth challenges.

LVI founder Catherine moaned the late Catholic medic in the team saying, “I have been following the progress of my dear friend from the time he was in ICU and we have been doing fundraising for his bills. It is shocking to learn that he is no more. I am still in shock.”

IT guru Jonathan O’Toole who worked on Dr. Karanja’s videos shared his “deep devastation” at the passing on of the Kenyan medic who he admired for his strong pro-life advocacy.

“I spent a lot of time with Dr. Karanja and worked closely with him up to the last video he made for the Kenyan senate, calling for the arrest of perpetrators of abortion. He was responding to a bill by a Kenyan parliamentarian who proposed the arrest of doctors who refused to conduct abortions,” O’Toole says in reference to Dr. Karanja’s appeal on the need to protect unborn children.

Sharing about his personal interactions with the late medic, the IT professional told ACI Africa, “He was a very committed family man who adored his nine children and focused on their growth in values.”

In a Facebook post, the volunteer Coordinator of the African Catholic Legislators Network (ACLN), Alice Muchiri has posted, “Thousands of children are alive today because you fought for their right to life and their dignity. Thousands of mothers are happier and healthier today because of your works Dr. Karanja.”

“You have indeed fought a good fight, he has finished the race and above all he kept his faith up to his last breath,” Ms. Muchiri writes about the late Kenyan obstetrician and gynaecologist, and adds, “Dr. Karanja your fight for the dignity and protection of life shall never be forgotten.”

“May you join St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta in heaven, with whom you fought a fierce battle for the unborn children in Cairo in 1994,” Ms. Muchiri says in her April 29 Facebook post, and implores the Lord to “crown you with Eternal Life among His Angels and Saints.”