Ediror’s note: The high rate of maternal mortality has been a great concern in Nigeria in the recent times. While most Nigerians blame it on the negligence on the part of the medical practitioners, others believe that the menace should be blamed on the couples’ late registration for ante-natal.
In this investigation conducted by NAIJ.com reporter, Austin Oyibode, a Surveyor, Mr. Ngozi Uchegbuego narrated a harrowing experience on how his wife died during labour.
“On the 11th day of June, 2016, I walked down the aisle with the woman of my dreams; Mrs. Rita Uchegbuego at the House on the Rock Assembly in Asaba, Delta state. I met her while she was serving as a corps member at Issele Uku when I went to preach the gospel to the Christian corps members.
"We lived in peace and love while our happiest day appeared to be the day we discovered that she was pregnant with twins.”
That was the background to a gory tale as narrated by Mr. Ngozi Uchegbuego, a professional surveyor in Asaba, the capital of Delta state.
June 11 this year would have made the marriage one year. And there would have been a big one year celebration. It would have been more beautiful with the presence of twin girls in less than a year of marriage.
But, according to the surveyor, his dreams were shattered following the negligence and the carefree attitude of doctors and nurses, people who are entrusted with caring for the lives of Nigerians in case of emergencies.
Although the case was not actually that of emergency, the doctors, according to the confession of Uchegbuego, were uncaring and failed to carry out their duties in line with the oath they took as medical practitioners.
Following the discovery that his wife, Rita, was pregnant, she was registered for ante natal at the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba. Uchegbuego said that one Doctor Sunday Ojenuwa was assigned to monitor her progress and attend to her through to delivery.
But he said that as a usual habit of the FMC, shortly after the registration, the hospital went on strike and consequently she was registered with a private hospital, Graceland Specialist Hospital, owned by one Dr. Maduakor, who is a consultant Gynecologist at the FMC.
By virtue of his registration with the private hospital, the wife had two doctors to attend to her, Ojenuwa at FMC, though on strike then and Maduakor at Graceland.
He said: “Dr. Maduakor became my wife’s private doctor by virtue of which he conducted series of tests on her in respect of her pregnancy and from one of such test results; he informed us that my wife had blood shortage because she was carrying twins.
"This got us worried but Maduakor told us that such occurrence was common with women carrying twins on the fact that the babies would be suc*king from her blood massively but that there would be blood transfusion.”
However, at the resumption of work at FMC, Mr. Uchegbuego said the wife resumed the ante natal at the FMC. But as the ante natal continued, her consultant at the FMC, Dr. Ojenuwa, gave a test result stating that she was having blood pressure and advised that she be admitted for monitoring. That was the beginning of her travails at the FMC that eventually ended her life.
He told NAIJ.com that the following day he saw his wife “passing through excruciating pains and her stomach was moving up and down while she was screaming. I had to make inquiry and was told that she had been induced by the nurse on duty on the instruction of Dr. Ojenuwa.
“But on further inquiry I was told that it is dangerous to induce a woman pregnant with twins. At this point, I became visibly worried. It was also revealed to me that inducement could only be done when permission has been sought from both expectant mother and the husband. This aggravated my worry as nobody sought my permission before carrying out the inducement.”
He argued that inducement couldn’t have been done as her expected day of delivery was still far away. As time moved on, his wife situation was getting deteriorating as she could no longer get up from the bed and the pains had increased even as she was induced the second time without her husband’s consent. These actions of the medical personnel left him in total confusion and disillusionment.
For him, Dr. Ojenuwa threw caution to the wind and in utter disregard for human life, he authorized the inducement of a woman who was pregnant with twins and whose EDD had not arrived.
This was one of his major grouses with the hospital authorities. He explained further that his wife was thereafter compelled to the labour ward where she was being forced to push and when that yielded no result, and following the fact that she was worn out and weak, she “was suddenly booked for caesarian session after suffering from two failed unauthorized inducements.”
However, his bitterness was yet compounded when after signing for the caesarian session and more than one hour, the doctors and nurses were yet to commence the process, adding that at this time, his wife was groaning in pains.
“While the nurses and one Dr. Longway were joking and laughing aloud, my wife was wriggling in serious pains on the wheel bed.
"I asked to know the reason for the delay, nobody replied me. I kept asking until Dr. Longway said who this woman is, nobody answered him. Thereafter, I was told that the doctor to do the session was not around. I later learnt it was Dr. Maduakor, my wife’s private doctor. I was happy to hear that but when I called him and told him we were at FMC, I pleaded with him to come and save my wife’s life.
"He dropped the call. We waited endlessly for Maduakor but he did not show up. This was despite the fact that he was supposed to be on call at that time. Another doctor later came and did the operation and twin baby girls were delivered.”
"After the delivery, the blood connected to the woman’s body was removed with great portion of blood still left while the wife was still in pains. The nurse on duty, Egbuobi, refused to explain when the husband asked her what happened.
“This made me to start shouting to see the person in charge but the nurse said I should go out of the ward because I was disturbing the environment. It was until after three hours of shouting that the nurse collected the half of blood and that I should go to the laboratory to know what happened,” Uchegbuego said.
His explanation revealed the ill action of Nurse Egbuobi who was reluctant to attend to the woman in pains. Despite the later instruction from the lab that the pint of blood be reconnected, Egbuobi was said to have dropped the papers and the blood on her table with no action.
This, Uchegbuego said made him to remain in the hospital till 2am before leaving. On returning back, the wife was seen struggling between life and death with tear filled eyes calling for help.
But Egbuobi allegedly shouted at the husband saying: “Are you not the husband, go and bring blood. She insisted that I should pay and bring the receipt before she would do anything. This is despite the fact that the half pint of blood was still left.
"After the payment, I got back to the ward, only to see doctors and nurses surrounding my wife and one of them was crying. Nurse Egbuobi was saying ‘you see am, you see am’ while one of the nurses was making call saying the patient had died.
"At that instance, my world seemed to have crashed. The unimaginable had happened and the most painful journey of my life had just taken its breath. It was at this point I realised that my wife had been murdered in cold blood.
“About 10 minutes later, Dr. Maduakor whom I have been calling for over 24 hours but refused to show up came into the ward and went straight to my wife’s file, while the nurses took the drug they made me to pay for which they never administered and disappeared and the new personnel taking over from them rolled my wife away to the morgue.”
Following the death of his wife, Surveyor Uchegbuego said he took the decision to ensure that justice was done and the medical personnel brought to justice. He reported to the Medical Director, Dr. Victor Osiatuma but for about six weeks, the MD did not reply him.
While he was following up, Dr. Maduakor allegedly told him that “what has happened is a thing of the past and I should see it as a thing of the past.”
He said that he thereafter sought the services of a legal practitioner. He got the services of Reuben Izeze chambers who was willing to pursue the case on free services for him.
He said petitions were written to Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Health, House of Representatives Committee on Health, Federal ministry of Women Affairs, and the United Nations Development Programme.
He said Doctor Ojenuwa swore an oath where he stated that upon discovering the state of the woman, he called a conference of doctors to take a decision but that two doctors were always absent from the conference.
According to Uchegbuego, Ojenuwa said the two doctors were always absent following the support they receive from the Medical Director. He alleged that the instructions of Ojenuwa which were proper investigation and counselling of both husband and wife before inducement were violated. Hence, the doctors and nurses went ahead against the directive of Ojenuwa.
With series of revelations, Uchegbuego said his wife’s life was simply placed compared to that of a chicken ready for slaughter due to medical negligence.
He alleged that Dr. Ojenuwa issued a query to the doctors for not following his instructions but to his surprise, he said that the MD, Dr. Osiatuma, blocked the doctors from responding to the query of the consultant. He said the consultant, Ojenuwa named two ladies who died at the hospital, Mrs. Stella Opia and Mrs. Amuamuzia Faith.
Following the differences in the argument and the belief that the total neglect on the part of the doctors led to the woman’s death, Surveyor Uchegbuego and his team of lawyers are calling for the sack of the Medical Director, the doctors and nurses involved and their practicing licenses immediately withdrawn. This, he said, is to help save other women and patients from the hands of these doctors.
But the Medical Director, Dr. Victor Osiatuma, denied the allegations of negligence on the part of his doctors.
In a long narrative to our reporter who visited his office, Dr. Osiatuma said the late woman had the privilege of having the best doctors to attend to her.
He said the couple came to the medical centre because of the experts the hospital has. He said the hospital has over 20 expert doctors to attend to the need of patients.
He explained that the late woman came to the hospital at the 37th week of her pregnancy. He said the husband paid for the deposit and the woman was admitted. According to him, the relationship was cordial as the wife was being attended to and things were going fine.
He explained that the hospital has the capacity to handle cases and save lives of children.
He said: “When she was brought in, she had traces of pre-eclampsia. The husband does not need his consent before doctors do inducement. We use drug to stimulate labour so that the baby can come out. We did induction but it failed.
"The last resort was to go for caesarian session. The surgery we did was well carried out. But at the House of Representatives sitting, we were told it was a premeditated murder. How could it be a pre-meditated murder? Did he bring his wife for us to murder?”
Dr. Osiatuma told NAIJ.com that the husband of the deceased was always driving out and driving in. He then queried: “How could one talk to the man who is always driving out and driving in? The wife was the one always calling him. When we do induction, we don’t need the consent of the husband, it is only for surgery because if anything happens, you are responsible.”
He explained that following the death, the hospital set an investigative committee made up of experienced doctors comprising Prof. Fasuba of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital and Dr. Ande of University of Benin Teaching Hospital. He said external bodies were invited to give credence to the investigation.
He said the panel members consisted of people who are more knowledgeable than them in the medical profession, with an assurance that if the report proved negligence on the part of the medical doctors, no one will be spared.
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He added that the report from the panel had been sent to the ministry of health. “We told him that the report has been sent to the minister of health.
The minister is reviewing the report, he got angry. He went to twitter showing how his wife was murdered. We told him to get independent pathology to carry out autopsy.
“We told him to be patient, let the case be heard and anybody found guilty will not go unpunished. The body in charge is empowered by law to punish anybody. They gave us October 18 for further hearing. The Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) is taking its course.”
Against the argument of Uchegbuego that he blocked the query issued to the doctors from being answered, he said the queries issued to the doctors were answered and the responses are with the minister of health and the MDCN.
He then called for the widower to be patient and wait for the recommendation from the minister of health and the MDCN.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously examined the depressing statistics of maternal deaths, the role of traditional birth attendants and how corruption and poor health care system fuel maternal deaths in Nigeria.
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