…As disagreement between hospital and alleged mum lingers
From: TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
A raging disagreement between a woman, who claimed to be the mother of Delight Chinonso, a 3-year-old girl born without an anus, and a health institution in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital now poses a grave threat to the life of the little girl.
The girl’s problem was discovered at a primary health centre in the state, four days after she was born in 2014.
She was promptly referred to Kelsey Harrison Hospital in the state capital, for an urgent intervention, where a colostomy was created on the girl’s stomach as a temporary measure before a definitive surgery would be carried out.
A colostomy is a surgical procedure that brings one end of the large intestine out through the abdominal wall. During this procedure, as Healthline.com further explains, one end of the colon is diverted through an incision in the abdominal wall to create a stoma. A stoma is the opening in the skin where a pouch for collecting feces is attached.
Recalling the experience of the shocking discovery, mother of the girl, Veronica Egejuru said: “Few days after her delivery, we discovered that there was no opening in her anus through which she could pass faeces like any normal child. There was a specialist that came and suggested that an opening should be immediately created by the side of the stomach, because her stomach was swollen.
The surgery was carried out, and she had been passing out through the opening. The doctor said the main surgery to create anus would be carried out after she would have attained two years, when the veins and nerves would still be very tender. Unfortunately, the time she reached two years, the family had no money to go for the surgery.
Hear Veronica: “We were referred to Enugu State University Teaching Hospital. When she was almost three years, I heard that some people were applying to Niger Delta Development Commission for medical assistance. I applied and I followed it up. It was futile. So I applied again this year, for the sum of N2.5 million and the Managing Director approved it. I got information that the money had been paid. I did not get the alert because in my application, I used my account number. So, I started inquiring to know to whose account the money was paid.
“But, I was directed to go to Kelsey Harrison Hospital, where the money was paid. I went there; the woman that is in charge of the hospital, Mrs. Lolo, interviewed me from 2pm till 5pm. She was asking me a lot of questions. Later, she said I should write a letter to the hospital stating that I am the rightful person, who applied to NDDC for the financial support and I did.
“I added my account number and phone number in the letter and she promised that she would transfer the money. But after sometime, I did not receive the money, so I went back. When I got there, she told me that there was a letter from NDDC directing her not to pay the money to me.
“She said she would give me N100,000 to go to Enugu to find out how the treatment would be carried out. I told her no, that the money was released for the treatment of the little girl. She said they would collect bank charges or half of the money.”
Continuing, she said: “Since then, she has been making me come and go, and refusing to see me. I am calling on well meaning Nigerians, government agencies and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to intervene and compel her to release the money, so that I can treat my child.
“It has not been easy since this child has been like this. The opening is like a fresh body, when she is defecating, she cannot control it and faeces will be gushing out without control because it is not coming from the right channel.
“After defecating, there is a particular medicine we use to clean her, to prevent her from getting infection. We buy it for about N2,500. It lasts for only two days. After she finishes easing herself, we bandage her stomach to avoid air entering it. It has not been easy managing her. She goes through pains and cries a lot when she wants to pass faeces.”
However, the management of Kelsey Harrison Hospital when contacted denied the allegation that they seized the money meant for the treatment of Delight. The management added that Egejuru was only trying to divert the money approved for medical attention into her personal account for pleasure.
Reacting on behalf of the hospital and the accused Mrs. Lolo, the Deputy Hospital Manager of International Trauma and Physical Care Centre, managers of Kelsey Harrison Hospital, Dr. Christian Uraka, noted that the money was transferred into the hospital’s account and not into any private purse.
Uraka stressed that the NDDC had also written to the hospital to perform a supervisory role in the usage of the money and report back to the commission two weeks after the completion of the operation.
“The little girl was brought to this hospital based on a referral from a primary health centre in April, 2014, when she was just four days old.
“She was diagnosed of intestinal obstruction. We discovered that she was in a critical and precarious condition that would require a life saving intervention surgery because there was no anus as a result of congenital abnormality. So, we did a colostomy to create an opening where faeces can pass.
“We did that particular one she is using to pass faeces free of charge. And we were ready to do the definitive surgery free at that time. She was discharged in a clinical stable condition to continue as an outpatient pending definitive surgery.
“After discharge, the parents did not show up again. Two years later, the parents came back and instead of requesting for review of the patient, they asked us to do a medical report on the earlier surgery and address it ‘To Whom It May Concern’. We, as an institution, did not write any appeal of request to any organization concerning the little girl,” Uraka explained.
Speaking further, he said: “On August 1, the mother came back that the sum of N2.5 million was credited to our account and requested that we should transfer it back to her personal account. We said we had to hear from the NDDC, which made the transfer.
“The next day, NDDC wrote us stating that they made payment into our account for the treatment and that we should monitor the surgery and report back to them two weeks after the completion of the surgery.
“In fact, how the money got into our account is worrisome. We told NDDC that Egejuru wants us to transfer the money into her private account. They (NDDC) said no and insisted that we should monitor the process. If they want us to give her the money, why are they insisting that we must monitor the surgery?
“We treated Delight free in 2014 because the mother was a single lady. Egejuru is not even her mother. We have the facts, we do not know how she came into this matter.
“In a tripartite meeting, NDDC told her that the money is not for pleasure. They told her to go and bring a report from that Enugu hospital and the money would be transferred to the particular hospital to carry out the surgery. But, she said no that she wants the money in her account, so that she will go to Enugu on her own.
“If the life of that little girl is of interest to her, what is stopping her from doing as NDDC instructed? She would have gone to Enugu, to bring the report and cost of the surgery and the hospital’s account number. Then, we will happily transfer the money, but not to her private account. So that at the end, we can write our report back to NDDC as instructed,” Uraka said.
The claims and counter-claims surrounding the N2.5 million have become an issue in the society. Some members of the public and groups had called for a thorough investigation into the identity of Egejuru, who Kelsey Hospital management revealed was not the original mother of the patient.
They tasked security agencies to unravel the connection between the “single lady” that earlier brought the minor for treatment when she was four days old, and Egejuru, who claimed to be the mother.
Among the groups is the Aggrieved Niger Delta Youths (ANDY), which particularly demanded that Mrs. Lolo (surname withheld) should be investigated too. ANDY called on EFCC, to quickly intervene and investigate her, based on what Egejuru said that transpired during her meeting with the hospital personnel.
The President of ANDY, Prince Amatari Bipeledei, made the call during a peaceful protest by the body, to register their displeasure over the delay in the release of the fund for the treatment of Delight.
Bipedelei urged the Managing Director of NDDC, Mr. Nsima Ekere, to set up a panel to investigate the disagreement surrounding the release of the money. The group also requested for immediate order to transfer the sum to the account of Egejuru for the onward treatment of the ailing child.