Two men are at loggerheads with the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba over the death of their wives separately, soon after child birth. But the hospital is insisting that they died of natural causes. DOMINIC ADEWOLE reports from Asaba
It is a common belief that a new born child has come to partake in the prosperity of life. But when in the cause of the birth, the mother, who is supposed to be proud dies, the matter becomes a thing of sorrow. It is so because, throughout the nine months of pregnancy, the family concerned, especially the woman carrying the baby in her womb and her well-wishers would be soaked in immense prayers and great expectation as they look forward to the glorious day of conception. But for the Uchebuegos, the death of Rita, the wife, while giving birth to twin baby girls is one sorrow, too many. They are accusing the hospital of negligence. The mother died on the day they were born or 24 hours after.
But a years ago, precisely on February 8, 2016, one Mrs Stella Opia, a 44-year-old woman and a mother of two, was a victim of the same plight at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba. Her husband, Hon. Shadrack Opia, said she delivered her baby through Caesarean Section, popularly called (CS) at the ‘O and G’ section of the hospital, but little did she know death was calling on her.
“Our Doctor, where we first registered for Ante-Natal Clinic, Dr. Obi Azuka, the resident Doctor of Lifecare Maternity Home, referred us to FMC, Asaba, where my wife met her untimely death.
At about 2pm on Monday, February 8, last year, my wife delivered her baby through C/S. But the doctors and nurses abandoned her shortly after delivery. Unknown to anybody at the ward where she was placed on bed-rest, she was bleeding profusely. At about eight hours later, a man that was taking care of the sick person beside her bed saw blood dropping under my wife’s bed and raised an alarm. “Prior to this time, my wife had complained severally of acute pains to the nurses on duty but they shouted her down, saying, ‘keep quiet, you have been disturbing everyone in this ward.’
“Before the nurses and doctors could salvage the situation, my wife had lost a lot of blood. On Tuesday, February 9, at about 2am, my wife died. Since that 2016, about 10 women have died like that. My wife’s death and the recent case of a newly wedded Mrs. Rita Uchebuego, have combined together to confirm the rate of negligence of duty at the hospital’ O and G. Barely four hours after Mrs. Rita, gave birth to twin baby girls, the newly married middle-aged woman, gave up the ghost.
Although, her kinsmen alleged negligence on the part of doctors and nurses that attended to her during labour, the memories of her barely one-year-old marriage has remained indelible in the heart of her husband, even as the twin baby girls, who were said to her carboncopies, would not stop crying in search of their mother. The only consolation for the twins is “Weep not child!” Rita, the South-South Focus gathered, got married on June 11, 2016. Her marriage was barely nine months plus when death came knocking. She was said to have been abandoned by the medical personnel at the hospital shortly after delivery but only God can succinctly explain what transpired on the fateful day.
Her husband, Mr. Uchebuego, whose eyes are full of tears in Asaba has called on relevant authorities to help him get justice. He also alleged that the hospital management was on the verge of sweeping the case under the carpet. While he accused the hospital management of gross-negligence of duty, maintaining that the circumstance that led to the death of his wife was nothing but “failure to apply reasonable care”, Hon. Shaddrack Opia, who said he has approached the court for redress over his wife’s case, blamed her death also on negligence.
Uchebuego, lamented that his wife was left to die after depositing N10,000 for urgent attention to be accorded her. He said:”When I came back around 12noon, I rushed to the hospital to check my wife. I met my wife passing through severe pains and was shouting. I asked her what the problem was, and she said she was induced. I didn’t know what that means because it was our first pregnancy. When the agony my wife was going through was beyond normal, I requested to see the doctor but to no avail.
“I looked for the doctor but he was nowhere to be found. The inducement was done without my consent. I waited till 10pm, if I could see the doctor but he never showed up. The next day (Wednesday, 8th of March), my mother in-law called me to come immediately for my wife have been booked for emergency Cesarean Section (CS), and that the doctor is requesting for an astral pint of blood. I quickly made calls to the laboratory department who helped made the blood available before I arrived the hospital. When I got there, my wife had already been prepared and placed on top of a wheel-bed.”
He continued:”They asked me to sign; I read and signed, prayed for my wife. For more than 30 minutes, the nurses were chatting and my wife was still in that pain and shouting on top of the wheel-bed. I was worried. Then I asked why the delay?
No answer. I kept asking them until a doctor by name, Dr. Longway, who is working under the supervision of a consultant named Dr. Maduakor, who happens to be our private family doctor, familiar with the history of my wife’s pregnancy, because from day one, we have been visiting his private hospital, came.” The deceased woman’s husband lamented that on Thursday, March, 9, he received an emergency call from his wife from the hospital at about 4.52am to come and assist her, “but little did I know that she wanted to see me for the last time.”
“On my arrival, I saw that my wife was left alone. The doctors and nurses were all sitting down and carelessly watching her as she struggled with the oxygen that was fixed on her and as she was calling for help because of her new babies.
“Her mother was restricted from entering the ward, following the hospital’s tradition. What is happening? I shouted. Only for a nurse to shout back at me, ‘Are you not the husband? Go and pay for blood. My wife was shouting, heartbeat please come and help me with the oxygen she was trying to push it to her nose”, he narrated.
He lamented that after the surgery, the medical team abandoned her. “My wife needed a little medical attention and support, just like every other woman in her condition. But what shocked me most was that, the doctors and nurses denied everything I have paid before so as to cover up for their negligence.” He further disclosed that his joy was cut short after the surgery was conducted on her. “My wife needed a little medical attention and support, just like every other woman in her condition, but everything I have paid before were denied her by the wicked Nigeria doctors and nurses at FMC Asaba.
The medical per-sonnel on duty said they were waiting for instructions from the senior consultant. They waited until her pains became uncontrollable”, he lamented. While he said the twins, have not stopped crying, “sorrowing my heart on their mother’s short stay in marriage”, Hon. Shaddrack has vowed to pursue his wife’s case to logical conclusion.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, said Mrs. Rita reacted negatively to the blood that was administered on her and died. He said it was unacceptable and unfair for husband or anybody to infer that the doctors and nurses deliberately killed the woman, as according to him, a panel of enquiry had been inaugurated to investigate the circumstance that led to Rita’s death.
He said: “It will be so unfair on the part of the husband to begin to accuse us that his wife was killed. What really happened was that the deserved person delivered through Caesarean Section and the babies and their mother were in perfect condition. “But the mother was short of blood and unfortunately, she reacted. This is a hospital where people are treated to live, not to be killed. So, nobody is sweeping anything under the carpet as alleged by her husband.”
He hinted that a panel of enquiry had since been set up to probe the incident and ascertain the culpability of both parties in the matter. While the CMD has called for caution, Hon. Opia, who has not recovered from the shock of his wife’s sudden death, leaving him to father three children, recalled the utterance of one of the doctor’s shortly after his wife was buried that “Don’t worry, you will soon recover from it” and blamed his religious background, which he said, forbids him from taking vengeance.
“If not for my Christian background, what I would have done to one or two of the doctors and nurses that were involved in my wife’s case would have sent the rank and fire at the hospital packing or create an atmosphere of public disorder.”