The Sun News

Controversy trails woman’s death after caesarean surgery

  • Reps Committee, Health minister, Medical Council wade in

From PAUL OSUYI, Asaba

The home of Ngozi Uchebuego, a land surveyor, is still enveloped by the gloomy atmosphere of bereavement, six months after his wife, who he married barely one year ago died at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State after undergoing Caesarean section, to deliver a set of twins.

Understandably, he has been inconsolable.

Uchebuego met his late wife, Rita, a native of Mbaise, Imo State, at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camp at Issele-Uku, Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State when he went there to preach to Christian corps members, as a part time evangelist. 

The love between them blossomed and on June 11, 2016, they wedded in church at the House on the Rock Assembly church in Asaba, the state capital.

Shortly after the nuptials, Rita became pregnant. Their joy was doubled when ultrasound scan showed that the couple would be blessed with twins. They were naturally ecstatic and looked forward to the birth of the two bundles of joy with excitement.

The beautiful narrative about their marriage, however, took a terrible turn when the day of delivery arrived in March this year with a heart wrenching twist. 

Narrating how he came to the terrible pass, Uchebuego said that as soon as it was confirmed that the wife was pregnant, she registered for antenatal care at the Federal Medical Centre and was issued a card with card number FMCP/0270822 and assigned to a particular doctor (codenamed Dr. Uwa) and she commenced attending antenatal care. But not long after, the hospital staff went on strike. This forced the couple to register at a private hospital (name withheld) run by a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, (codenamed Dr Ukor) who works at the FMC-Asaba. Rita continued to attend antenatal care at the private hospital while the strike lasted. When strike was called off, she resumed regular attendance for antenatal care at FMC.

Routine tests ordered by the doctor assigned to manage her case indicated that she was short on blood. Later, the doctor estimated her expected date of delivery (EDD) to be March 19, 2017.

When she visited the hospital on March 6 for antenatal care, her blood pressure was found to be 160/100mmHg. This prompted Dr. Uwa to immediately admit her for close monitoring. Consequently, Uchebuego said he paid N10,000 as deposit for the admission.

“I stayed with my wife until about 9:00pm on that day before leaving the hospital with the intention of returning in the morning,” he said.

When he returned the next day, he was shocked to find the wife in excruciating pain. Upon inquiry, he learnt that the doctor decided to induce labour.

His efforts to meet with Dr. Uwa were futile as he learnt that he was not within the vicinity of the hospital. Uchebuego said that he was deeply worried by the development, given that the EDD was still two weeks away. But the nurses assured him that the wife would soon give birth.

Taking up the tale, Uchebuego narrated the ordeal his wife passed through before she died: “Upon this assurance and the presence of my wife’s mother at the hospital, I quickly rushed out to deliver some survey plans to my clients. As soon as I was done I came back to the hospital about 6:00pm. By this time, my wife could no longer get up from the bed and the pains had increased even as she informed me that she was induced a second time, still without my consent or permission obtained.

“It is my belief that the doctor did not follow acceptable professional medical practice. He gave scant regard to the life of my wife. I am completely unable to understand how Uwa could take a decision to induce a woman who was pregnant with twins, whose EDD had not arrived or even passed and then disappear into thin air as he was not around to monitor my wife’s condition following the inducement. “The next day, I met my wife at the labour ward where she was being forced to push and when this yielded no positive result as she was already tired, my wife was suddenly booked for an emergency caesarean section after suffering from two failed unauthorized inducements.

“Due to the reality of the Caesarean section, I was asked to provide an extra pint of blood and I quickly put calls across to the laboratory and the blood was made available immediately. The nurses were preparing my wife to be rolled to the theatre for emergency Caesarean delivery.

“They brought a document for me to sign and I read and signed, but more than an hour after I signed the document, nothing was done to my wife, who at this stage was groaning in pains. The nurses and another doctor (codenamed Dr. Longus) were joking and laughing aloud, even as my wife was writhing in agony on the stretcher.

“Even more troubling was the fact that the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Ukor, who was supposed to perform the surgery was not within the hospital premises.

“I called him for the second time and passionately pleaded with him to come. He did not show up. Fortunately, about 12:00 noon, another doctor, Dr. Adigba, who I can say was like an angel sent by God, took my wife into the theatre for the operation. I donated another pint of blood, making it two pints of blood available to the hospital for my wife.

“By the grace of God, about 1:30pm, my twin beautiful baby girls came out from the theatre. The surgery ended about 2:00pm when my wife was wheeled out from the theatre to the O &G (obstetrics and gynaecology) ward with a pint of blood connected to her body through her hand.

“I was still in the hospital premises till 5.00pm when a nurse called me to go get some drugs to be given to my twins on the instruction of the doctor at the neo-natal department, so I left my wife in the O & G ward.

“I was shocked to my bones when I got back to the O & G ward about 6:30pm and saw that the blood transfusion tube had been disconnected from my wife and a large part of it was still remaining whilst she was wide awake at this point in time. I asked her why the blood was disconnected, she did not know why, so I asked the nurse on duty, but her response was cold silence.

“I became alarmed to the extent that I started shouting to see the person in charge but the nurse said I should go out of the ward claiming that I was disturbing the other patients.  After disturbing them for about three hours, the nurse removed the half pint of blood and said I should go to the laboratory and ask them why the blood was disconnected.

“I hurriedly rushed down to the laboratory with the blood where I met one Mr. Moses for the test/cross examination which took about 45 minutes. A lab test result was given to me with the half pint of blood with an instruction that the blood should be reconnected. On getting back to the O & G ward, I gave the nurse (codenamed Obi) the half pint of blood together with the laboratory result and the oral instruction that it should be reconnected but she just dropped it on her table, sat back and she took no action.

“Despite my pleas, Obi did not transfuse the blood into my wife. I was left worried, anxious and perplexed. However, I adamantly remained with my wife at the O & G ward till about 2:00am on March 9, 2017 before leaving her in the care of my mother-in-law.

“I arrived my house to get a little rest, but about two hours and fifty two minutes later, my wife called me at 4:52am to come and help her adjust the oxygen fixed on her as it was not properly done thereby causing her great discomfort.

“She had earlier made the same complaint to Obi who did nothing about it. In the twinkle of an eye, I quickly wore my clothes and rushed down to the hospital, arriving there about 5:05am where I met my wife struggling with the oxygen fixed on her and tearfully beckoning on me to come and assist her.

“I did not know anything about oxygen or how to fix it, so I shouted for help. The Obi shouted back at me and said, “Are you not the husband? Go and bring blood.” I told her that the half pint of blood was still unused, and that my wife was complaining about oxygen, but she insisted that I should pay and bring receipt before they can transfuse the blood.

“So I ran out to pay for blood at the pay point of the laboratory, contrary to the fact that we had been told at the time of registration for antenatal that we should donate blood, and we fully complied by donating a pint of blood in advance. Within seven to ten minutes, I got back to the ward with the receipt only to see that the other nurses had surrounded my wife’s bed and the doctor (codenamed Dr Orie) was crying.

“I was too shocked to understand what I was seeing. I presented the receipt so that the blood could be transfused, but Obi who had all along been uncaring simply said: “You see am now, you see am now.” I didn’t understand what she meant. Meanwhile one of the other nurses was making a call to somebody and saying that the patient had finally given up.

“It was at that point that it dawned on me that my wife had been murdered in cold blood. Then I quickly ran to the Dr. Orie, to inquire from him why they refused to transfuse the blood despite the critical state of my wife having given birth to twins through caesarean operation? And he exclaimed ‘Bottlenecks! Bottlenecks!’ I started praying for my wife as I could not believe that she was dead.”

As he mourns the death of his wife in questionable circumstances, a crack team of lawyers from Reuben Izeze and Partners have intervened on a pro bono basis with a view to ensuring that Uchebuego gets justice.

A petition to that effect is already receiving attention at the House of Representatives through its Committee on Public Petitions. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has forwarded the same petition to its investigating panel where it is receiving attention.

In addition, the petition has been sent to the Federal Ministry of Health, Senate Committee on Health, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

In the petition, Uchebuego demanded that all the healthcare personnel involved in the death of his wife be brought to book. “There should be a complete overhaul of the obviously incompetent administration of FMC, Asaba, which has led to the death of many expectant mothers in recent times as well as the numerous number of babies that die at the hands of their doctors.”

One of the lawyers, Mr. Dumbili Chinonso Emmanuel said though investigations were ongoing, it was clear that the hospital’s negligence and willful act resulted in the death of the woman.

Emmanuel raised issues with the report of the internal panel constituted to investigate the matter, saying that it was filled with contradictions.

When contacted, the Medical Director, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, who confirmed the death of Uchebuego’s wife at FMC, Asaba, however, denied negligence on the part of his medical personnel, saying that the deceased had the privilege of being attended to by the best doctors at the hospital.

He denied the allegations made by Uchebuego, stating that inducement is done without the consent of the husband. He added that it is only in the case of Caesarian section that the husband’s consent would be sought. 

He confirmed that the matter was receiving attention at the appropriate quarters and urged the widower to be patient for the outcome of the investigation, adding that any personnel found to be culpable would be sanctioned accordingly.

“A two-man external panel comprising of Prof. Fasuba of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and Dr. Ande of University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) is to investigate the death of Rita. The report of the internal panel has been submitted and the result of the investigation would soon be released.

“As we speak, the Minister of Health, the National Assembly and MDCN are aware of this matter, which started since March. I have appealed to him (widower) to be patient and wait for the outcome of investigations, and if anyone is found guilty, he will be sanctioned,” he said.


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1 Comment

  1. Peter Okeke 10th September 2017 at 10:50 am

    It is such a sad common story that beset helpless Nigerians in most Nigeria hospitals. It is usually shocking to someone visiting those hospitals for the first time to observe cold, insensitive and disorienting attitudes of most of the hospital workers that have no business in that profession that calls for innate empathy and dedication. To most of them including the doctors it is just a job that brings pay that often don’t come as at when due. Most hospital personnel do not see patients as needing their care and attention but mere statistics dead or alife. There are only few places available to run to for such services in this country without tell of woes surrounding the unkind and unfeeling attitudes of health workers who behave as if they were forced into the profession. If you observe closely you discover that because of their grumbling and grudges against the system and their personal dissatisfaction with their jobs they leave unforgivable mistakes that often lead to death of patients. Somebody called this our society a zoo but I think it is more like a jungle because zoos are more organised.

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