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A husband’s agony

‘How LASUTH, Ifako-Ijaiye hospital killed my wife’

Allegations not true; we did our best – LASUTH

By Job Osazuwa

It is three months since the death of Mrs. Kemi Fadehan. But the pain inflicted on her husband seems to be increasing by the day.

“My world has crumbled before me and my life is finished. She was a pillar of support to us. In fact, she was my everything.” Those were Fadehan’s words when the reporter visited him recently at his office in Yaba, Lagos. He stared at a computer on his desk, and sobbed intermittently. His colleagues admitted that his productivity at the office had been drastically reduced.

Mrs. Fadehan Kemi died on August 31, 2016, at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, Lagos, two weeks after she was delivered of a baby boy through a caesarean section (CS) at Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital in Lagos. Kemi’s fatal delivery, according to her husband, was her third CS.

Accusations and denials

Fadehan is still bitter about the quality of health care given to his wife. He believes that his wife died due to negligence on the part of the medical personnel that took the delivery at Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital. He also claimed that a senior consultant slated to perform his wife’s operation failed to show up that day.

“It is instructive to note that my wife had the last CS over four and a half years ago at Oke-Odo General Hospital, Lagos State, without any problem then and after.

 

“I, therefore, put it to you that it was your rupture of my wife’s intestine as deduced prior to and during the second corrective surgery that caused the much bleeding you called me to experience in the theatre, which in turn led to the infection of my wife’s organs and led to her death,” he wrote the gynaecologist that performed his wife’s last operation.

Fadehan told Daily Sun that he was shocked when he was told by the female doctor that handled his wife case that it was her past two caesarean sections that led to her death.

He has forwarded a petition, dated September 20, 2016, to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN). He also copied the Minister of Health, Commissioner of Health, Lagos State, the management of Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital and others. In the petition, Fadehan demanded justice over his wife’s “avoidable death due to negligence.”

The petitioner said he needed to raise the alarm, even though it wouldn’t bring back his wife, to forestall recurrence and loss of lives in the hands of professionals who should save life.

“My loving wife, Kemi, died in a hospital that many would have blamed us for not using,” he noted.

In reaction, the spokesperson for LASUTH, Mr. Idowu Olasukanmi, denied Fadehan’s allegations.

He told Daily Sun that the hospital did all it could to save the woman, regretting that she died due to further complications that defied treatment.

Olasukanmi said the issue of negligence of duty, as raised by Mr. Fadehan, was totally unfounded, because the hospital “dutifully monitored every minute the woman spent at the hospital.”

At Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital

Fadehan told Daily Sun that his wife attended a proper antenatal programme spanning over five months at the hospital.

He said: “Worthy of note is that her last child was close to five years, a period medically ample enough to have another baby.

“On August 17, 2016, two weeks before my wife’s estimated due date (EDD), the doctors admitted my wife for the operation billed for the next day. All payments were made and surgery materials were provided. The surgery started about 4:45pm and was not concluded until about 8:30pm. At about 6:30pm on that fateful day, the head of the team (name withheld by us), asked that I be brought into the theatre. I was shocked when I saw my wife in a pool of her blood and saw that her uterus and virtually all her intestines were out.

“The doctor, visibly nervous, was blaming me for allowing the lady to go through a third surgery and explained that her uterus was weak and that this explained the much blood loss. At this point, she told me the reason for calling me in was to quickly get the extra dose of oxytocin she had earlier demanded and to let me know that she would still require more of it and a second pint of blood. Immediately, I got the oxytocin and the O-negative blood, which was not in the hospital’s blood bank.

“On August 22, we noticed that her stomach had started swelling back even to the level at pregnancy. The next day, she was asked to stop taking food and she was placed on drips. By Wednesday, she was complaining of weakness due to hunger, a scan was ordered and a special catheter was placed in her nostril to drain her stomach content.

“She was getting more emaciated due to hunger. She was placed on antibiotics and it was at this point that a second surgery was first suggested. I quickly sent a distress call to my office for financial help on August 24, when l already had spent extra N220,000. My office helped me to quickly raise another N230,000 for the expected surgery. This was eight days after the complication was already pronounced.

“My wife was not at ease all the while but was just able to manage to defecate a little in the morning, which the doctors felt was a sign of improvement. Later in the evening, I was called to pay for an ambulance as a referral had been made to LASUTH, being the base of most of the consultants who would attend to her subsequently and for closer monitoring.”

The battle at LASUTH

The struggle to keep the woman alive continued at LASUTH. Kemi, it was learnt, was admitted into the Gynaecology Ward A, at about 10:45pm on August 25.

The bereaved husband further: “Several teams of doctors from the surgery unit came to observe her for the next two days. Each came with a different postulation. All this while, my wife’s health was deteriorating and she started generating spasms and hallucinating. She had high temperature and had difficulty in breathing.

“Meanwhile, the only explanation the doctors gave was that it might not be advisable for her to go through a second surgery, which they knew was inevitable.

“On August 27, she defecated and the same faecal liquid started coming out of the sutured portion of the abdomen where the CS was done. All the positive signs changed to more weakness, paleness, over-the-roof temperature and more spasms.

“A list of operation materials was handed to me and we purchased them for the operation, which later took place around 9pm that same day.”

According to Fadehan, the surgeons that did the corrective surgery later explained to him that they had repaired a damaged intestine but that she would need time to heal in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU): “They said we would be amazed at what they packed out of her body. She was taken into the ICU at about 2am.”

In his defence, Olasukanmi told Daily Sun that it was one of LASUTH’s senior consultants, a professor, who treated Kemi. He insisted that the hospital did everything in its power to give the patient the best treatment but it was unfortunate that she couldn’t survive.

At the LASUTH ICU

While the doctors performed their duties to save Kemi, her husband said he went closer to God in prayer.

Fadehan said he became more disturbed when on August 30, he noticed that all reports by the doctors showed she wasn’t improving.

He claimed that it was at that point that the consultant that was scheduled to carry out the CS originally at Ifako-Ijaiye showed up and informed them that the doctors were inviting kidney and neurology experts to also analyse her.

“As at the day my wife died, we had expended over N750,000, excluding surgery and ICU bills. It got to a time that all finances were gone and I explained to them at the ICU that I couldn’t afford the daily expensive tests but could only afford to buy drugs. At this point someone introduced me to the welfare division, which came to our aid. But it was too late,” he said.

And the woman died

Fadehan said his wife, who had been conscious all through, surprisingly became unconscious on August 31, and was placed on a ventilator. He recalled how his own heart began to beat faster than necessary. At about 5pm, he said the sad news came to him like a thunderbolt that his wife had passed on.

“In order to have the corpse buried promptly without incurring further debt, I had to appeal to my office to lend me N400,000. The body was released from the hospital for burial on September 3, when it was certified that we had made all necessary payments on surgery and ICU monitoring,” he said.

The hospital’s spokesman, however, countered that LASUTH’s welfare department was magnanimous enough to have footed Kemi’s medical bills when her husband complained of paucity of funds. He expressed shock over the man’s allegations.

Olasukanmi said that a panel has been set up to look into the matter, and assured all stakeholders that the findings would be ready soon.

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