By Lawrence Enyoghasu

A surrogacy operation carried out in Lagos some years ago is now a subject of controversy. This is because the surrogate parent who was delivered of triplets for some unnamed intending parents (IP) herself stands in danger of not giving birth to a child she could call her own, except a gynaecological miracle takes place. This is due to some complications that arose from a caesarean section via which she was delivered of the babies.

Now, as blame continues to be passed from one individual and one institution to another, the question that nobody is willing to touch with a ten-foot pole is: who takes responsibility for the restorative surgery desperately needed to restore the surrogate mother to her reproductive self? Would the cost be borne by herself, the surrogacy agency, the benefitting intended parents or the hospitals that did the surgery? 

Her name is Gift Danjuma. The lady from Nasarawa State is fighting a complicated battle of her life right now. It started when she signed on for the service of a surrogacy agency that reportedly offered a tantalising sum to women of child-bearing age that were ready to take on the role of surrogate mothers for some unnamed intending parents. She said she consulted her family members on the matter.  Not surprisingly, they vehemently opposed the idea. But there were bills to pay.

Danjuma’s story of sorrow

She told her pathetic story to Saturday Sun. “I started the surrogacy process with “Meet Surrogate Mothers Agency” owned by Olaronke Ugwueke Thaddeus on December 20, 2018. That was after being certified fit for the purpose by an E-mobile Specialist Hospital. In view of the foregoing, in February 2019, the embryo of the parent-to-be was transferred into my womb. I was confirmed pregnant two weeks after the transfer. Three months into the pregnancy, Mrs. Thaddeus informed me that the Intended Parents (IP) wanted me to use St Nicholas Hospital instead of the agency’s hospital.

“This was how I went to St Nicholas. I was registered and a hospital card was given to me. I was assigned to one Dr. Oluwole Ayodeji as my gynaecologist. This was how I started antenatal care with St Nicholas. I was scheduled to go to the hospital every two weeks to see Dr Oluwole for regular check-ups. The pregnancy got to a stage where I was unable to sleep or breathe well. This is because I was pregnant with triplets. I complained to Dr Oluwole and he asked me to come to the hospital for a check-up. I did, and later the same day, I was admitted at St Nicholas Hospital because the test they did showed early signs of labour. That was how I was hospitalised for over two months.

“When the pregnancy was 30 weeks old, the agency told Dr Oluwole to do a caesarean section (CS) because of the weight of the babies and my health. But he refused and that resulted in a serious argument between the agency and Dr Oluwole. The Clinical Director of St Nicholas was informed of this development. Dr Oluwole pleaded with the agency to add an additional four weeks because, according to him, if the sugery was done at 30 weeks, it would affect the mental health of the babies. I agreed in the interest of the babies.

“On September 4, 2019, Dr Oluwole carried out the operation which resulted in complications and severe pains. They continued for days. I was unable to reach him until September 7, 2019. When I eventually got through, I relayed to him the severe pain I was going through. I said the pains looked like there was an unfinished abortion or miscarriage somewhere. He said that was not possible. In fact, he was furious with me for using such language. He asked me to go for a scan. I did and the result showed that there were some particles of blood in the uterus. Thereafter, he took me back to the theatre for evacuation. I bore the pain for days.

“In fact, on September 9, 2019, I almost lost my life right there at St Nicholas Hospital. My blood pressure was high; my temperature went high. I was feeling cold at the same time. I remember that about five doctors led by Dr Oluwole attended to me in a bid to stabilise my condition. At the end, they succeeded. On September 11, 2019, I was discharged from the hospital. But on reaching home, the pains started again. My menstrual period stopped for about six months. When it started coming again, it came with severe pains. I had gone to several labs and hospitals in search of solutions to my health issues. And every time, I get to the lab or hospital, I would put a call through to Dr Oluwole. As a matter of fact, a week after I left St Nicholas Hospital, I started calling and complaining about my health condition to him. Each time I called, he would say that I was not using a good laboratory that can effectively diagnose the problem. Ever since the CS was done I have not been able to conceive and my period has been irregular and painful.”

A surgery and scary aftermath

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Gift informed Saturday Sun that since then she had been managing her life until a fiancé who has insisted that she must get pregnant before they go for traditional marriage rites appeared on the scene. But from the look of things, it appears she will no longer get pregnant unless a gynaecological restorative surgery is carried out on her. This fact worries her to no end.

She said: “Three months ago, I went to the General Hospital, Gbagada. There I was referred to a laboratory to run some tests, including hysterosalpingogram (HSG). It was during the process of undertaking the HSG test that I was sent back to the General Hospital from the lab.

I was told to ask my gynaecologist to insert a catheter into me because the radiologist couldn’t get through to my cervix. I went back to the General Hospital and three different doctors tried to catheterize me on three different occasions. But they couldn’t get through to my cervix.  Due to the above-mentioned complications, I called the agency and was given an appointment to come see a doctor. I did. But after the doctor examined me, he said he could not get through to my cervix. He said that there might have been some complications during the caesarean section or during the evacuation exercise. He said I should go back to the hospital where the operations were performed for corrective surgery because there was an error with the whole session at St Nicholas Hospital. I have repeatedly demanded my medical report. But it is sad and disappointing to report that it has not been given to me despite the severe abdominal pains I am going through.”

Agency, doctor react

When Saturday Sun reached the agency, Mrs Olaronke insisted that Gift does not have any case with them. Asked why the agency left matters in the hands of the Intending Parents (IP) and why IPs refused to use the agency’s accredited hospital but opted instead for St. Nicholas, she ended the phone conversation, adding that: “If she has any problem, let her direct it to St. Nicholas.”

When Dr Oluwole was reached on the phone, he informed the newspaper: “It is not the duty of the hospital to take care of her, but the intending parent. The hospital worked on the order and finance of the client, her intended parent. When she called me, I told her that we didn’t operate on her service. I don’t own the hospital. I consult for them. There was no way she can have medical care without payment. But I am surprised that she has not been given her medical report because I was asked to check it some days ago. If anybody has to provide care for her now, it is probably the intending parent who should foot the bill. It was the intending parent who brought her for care at the hospital. After surrogacy, the menstruation period could change. I told her that she should meet experienced gynaecologists. She might have infections that have closed her cervix. What pissed off the hospital was the fact that she came back after three years of surgery to lay claim that the operation had consequences.”

No, we’re not culpable – St Nicholas                 

In its reaction, St. Nicholas Hospital, through its Senior EA to its MD, Folasade Paul, said: “I can confirm that Ms. Gift Danjuma was delivered of multiple pregnancies at St. Nicholas Hospital on September 4 2019, which she had carried as a surrogate. I can also confirm that the delivery which was carried out almost three years ago was successful and that she was discharged on September 11 2019. She was attended to in the most professional manner and given the very best medical care while on admission at St. Nicholas Hospital. Since her discharge, she has not presented the hospital with any complaints – again we state it has been almost three years since the successful delivery.

She presented herself at St. Nicholas recently on July 19 2022 with several complaints which were not present at the time of her discharge.

And by her own admission, she has sought treatment in other places, hospitals and medical laboratories, in the three years since her discharge, where possibly procedures that we are not privy to, and have no control over, may have been carried out. We can categorically state that Ms Danjuma was discharged in perfect health in 2019, and we categorically deny any allegation of medical negligence as regards her treatment.”