A retired engineer, Mr. Babajide Olayemi, father of late Mrs. Josephine Odufowora, narrates how his 25-year-old daughter, who was pregnant with a set of twins, died in a private hospital after General Hospital, Sango-Ota, refused to attend to her and the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, abandoned her in an Intensive Care Unit ward for three days without treatment. (ANGELA ONWUZOO reports for PUNCH).
June 16, 2020, is a day Mr. Babajide Olayemi, an indigene of Ekiti State and his wife, Beatrice, will not forget in a hurry, as their 25-year-old daughter, late Mrs. Josephine Odufowora, who was pregnant with a set of twins allegedly died due to the negligence of health workers at federal and state government-owned hospitals in Ogun State.
The grieving retired engineer from the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development said he had been full of joy when he heard that his late daughter, a graduate of Business Administration from the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, was pregnant with a set of twins.
Olayemi said his son-in-law, Mr. David Odufowora, who also graduated from OOU, had, alongside his late wife, made necessary provisions for the arrival of the twins. The late Josephine, her father noted, had been in high spirits to carry her twins as she kept on checking the calendar for her expected delivery date.
Though she had her first baby, Emmanuel, four years ago, the deceased, a businesswoman, was to join the league of mothers of twins but, unfortunately, this expectation was cut short.
According to Olayemi, the joy of the family was turned into sorrow when his daughter was rushed to General Hospital, Sango-Ota, in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State, following a sudden stomach pain and was later referred to Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, the state capital for treatment.
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Medical Negligence alleged
Narrating his pain to PUNCH Healthwise, the 56-year-old man says it is disheartening that his daughter died with the twins before his own eyes despite the family’s efforts, blaming the Nigerian healthcare system for the tragedy.
Engulfed in grief, the retired engineer told our correspondent that he is still in shock by the gross negligence displayed at the General Hospital, Sango-Ota, a state government-owned health facility and FMC Abeokuta, a Federal Government-owned tertiary hospital, both in Ogun State which he said led to his daughter’s untimely death, leaving her husband and four-year-old son behind.
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The mourning father said, “She registered for her antenatal at General Hospital, Sango-Ota. The general hospital directed her to be attending their clinic very close to her house.
Health Centre, Ota with features of a poultry farm
“The clinic is called Health Centre, Ota. They told her to be attending antenatal there but if there is any complaint, she should come to the general hospital for treatment because they work together.
“On June 11, Josephine went for her antenatal at the health centre, where it was confirmed that the twins in her womb were kicking and that there was no cause for alarm.
“But around 12: 00 AM the next day- June 12, she was rushed to a private hospital where we were told to go back to the health centre where she registered for her antenatal, which we did accordingly. She was six-and-a-half months into the pregnancy.
“Getting to the health centre, my brother-in-law, Lawrence Ajiki, had to voice out that the health centre had the features of a poultry farm, with just two auxiliary nurses present. The health centre referred us to General Hospital, Sango-Ota where she had registered for antenatal.
“When we got to General Hospital, Sango-Ota, we waited for over three hours, without any health worker coming to attend to her. We saw only one doctor on duty attending to patients.
No gynaecologists, incubators at General Hospital, Sango-Ota
“The doctor referred us to FMC, Abeokuta. He told us that they had no gynaecologists, incubators and other necessary facilities needed to take care of my daughter.”
Lamenting his bitter experience at the general hospital, as he watched his pregnant daughter, writhing in abdominal pain without any medical attention, the saddened father said he met the height of act of negligence at FMC, Abeokuta.
“I took my daughter to FMC, Abeokuta, in anticipation that it had various specialist doctors, incubators, modern health care gadgets as we were told at the general hospital.
Beginning of Josephine’s death
“We arrived at FMC Abeokuta on the 13th of June around 9:30 PM. “We met some doctors and nurses at the entrance of the Intensive Care Unit/Emergency Ward of the hospital.
“The look on their faces was as good as those in a comedy hall after seeing my daughter very uncomfortable with her pregnancy. At this point, my daughter was in critical pain”, he said.
According to him, their visit to FMC Abeokuta was the beginning of Josephine’s demise.
“The retired engineer explained, “For over six hours that we got there, my daughter was not attended to, despite being in anguish.
“They told us that there was no bed space. It was until a formal agreement of N18, 500 weekly payment for bed space was reached before she was finally admitted.
“Surprisingly, when we got into the ward, there were over 15 empty bed spaces, contrary to what we were told in the beginning that there was no bed space.
“After admitting her into the ward, they kept ordering a series of tests, scans and drugs, amounting to hundreds of thousands of naira.
“It never crossed my mind that no doctor would attend to her after all the payment.
“The second day, an anonymous woman came to my wife and told her to take my daughter to a private hospital if she loved her, as FMC Abeokuta won’t attend to her. ‘They only want to extort you,’ she said.
“By then, the twins were already dead in the womb. One of the tests that were conducted confirmed it.”
Aggrieved Olayemi continued, “My daughter was at FMC Abeokuta in the ICU emergency ward for three consecutive days without treatment.
Evacuation of the twins and death of Josephine
“On the fourth day, June 16, Josephine was taken to a private hospital, since FMC Abeokuta decided to abandon her, after spending over N150,000 on bed space, drugs and tests.
“We took her to Red Wood Hospital, Adigbe, Abeokuta, where we were told to deposit N500,000 before attending to us and the sum of N200,000 was paid in cash immediately.
“The surgery was successful for the evacuation of the twins.
“She was stable; brushed her mouth and took a slice of bread as instructed by the doctor.
“She called her husband, spoke with her son too, and joy was on the faces of everyone present though we had lost the twins.
“The surgery was concluded around 5:00 PM. An hour later, Josephine became restless, her eyes bulging and the doctors battled for six hours to save her life.
“Unfortunately, she gave up the ghost at exactly 11:30 PM on the 16th of June 2020 at age 25.”
The National Demographic and Health Survey 2018, shows that Nigeria’s maternal mortality ratio is at 512 per 100,000 live births which experts say is very high and unacceptable.
According to the World Health Organisation, a Nigerian woman has a 1 in the 22-lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy, childbirth or postpartum/post-abortion; whereas in the most developed countries, the lifetime risk is 1 in 4900.
Also, the United Nations Children’s Fund, says that out of more than 2.5 million babies that are born dead globally each year, more than 400,000 of the stillborn deaths take place in Nigeria.
“My daughter died only because this country failed her, she died because she was a Nigerian, leaving behind my little Emmanuel.
“Please pray not for Josephine, but for what she left behind. Her project has been renamed Josephine616”, the mourning father said,”
FMC Abeokuta reacts
Reacting to the report in a statement signed by Head, Public Relations & Information of FMC Abeokuta, Mr. Segun Orisajo for the medical director, the hospital denied the allegations.
The hospital claimed that the late Josephine discharged herself from the centre against medical advice.
The statement reads in part, “The above-named patient was referred from state hospital, Ota on account of Thyroid disease in pregnancy at an estimated gestational age of 25 weeks complicated with severe lower abdominal pain.
“The team on-call saw her on the 13th of June, 2020 at 10:10 pm.
“The diagnosis of Graves’ disease in pregnancy (multiple gestations) was confirmed.
“She was resuscitated and investigations were requested.
“By the mid-night (14-06-2020) the medical team on call reviewed her. They agreed with the diagnosis and requested for more investigations, Echocardiography, thyroid scan and commenced her on anti-thyroid medications.”
“Patient’s symptoms abated except for occasional abdominal pain (mild) and this was managed with analgesics.”
The statement further said, “She was reviewed on the 15th of June, 2020 with the result of Obstetric ultrasound.
The demise of one twin was discussed with her and the need to manage the second twin conservatively was discussed with her due to her toxic clinical state and possible complications with aggressive intervention.
“She agreed to the management plan as explained.
Thereafter, the prognosis was made known and essentially, the need to complete her outstanding investigations.
“By the 16th of June, 2020; patient discharged herself against medical advice despite all persuasions.”
Josephine’s family rejects the hospital’s claims
But the heartbroken father rejected FMC’s claims, describing the statement as false and distortion of facts.
He said, “The attention of the Olayemi and Odufowora, the families of the late Josephine, the pregnant woman, whose life was lost due to negligence of doctors at the FMC Abeokuta has been drawn to a reaction written by the hospital.
“Let it be known to all and sundry that it was the medical director that distorted the facts with colossal and blatant lies probably to cover up their errors.
“In their allegation that Josephine discharged herself, this is the most wicked statement of this generation. The hospital should know that it is only a mad man that would discharge himself from a hospital where he is being taken care of, especially in such a controlled situation as they claimed.
“She was never attended to for 24-hours! And there was no treatment on course.
“Our hearts are more pained by this wicked and heartless statement.
“Josephine was never given any service talk less of being the best. She was just carelessly neglected. ”
Olayemi went on, “There was no medical team that agreed with any more investigations on 14-06-2020 as stated by the centre and no medication was commenced.
“All the tests were made and given to the nurses on duty on Monday 15th June by 9:00 AM.
“Throughout the rest of that day, there was no single attention from any doctor until later in the evening when one of the women advised the mother to save the life of her child by quickly taking her to Sacred Heart, Lantoro, because doctors were said to be preparing to go on strike.
“That was what led to her being quickly taken to another hospital out of fear of losing her.
“Before then, the FMC doctors had ordered a series of test which were all conducted.”
The retired engineer maintained that FMC was responsible for the death of his daughter.
“The question we are now asking is: why the unnecessary tests since it was stated in the referral letter to give her Carbinazole which implies thyroid disorder?
“Therefore, will the so-called experts tell us they don’t know how to tackle a severe graves’ disorder?
“In the FMC’s allegation, they also claimed she was resuscitated. How can you perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a patient who never passed out?
“You claimed she was given the best care from the medical team (that never attended to her): How come all the drugs and injections prescribed were never used?
“No discussion was made with Josephine either on the second or, any of the twins on the 15th of June as only her husband, a microbiologist who told us that one of the babies was no more.
“Even at that, there was no aggressive intervention from FMC neither was any agreement reached”, he noted.
Family vows to take legal action against FMC
The bereaved father concluded, “Let the hospital explain to Nigerians when doctors begin to abandon patients in the emergency ward under the guise of a nationwide strike?
“We know there is nothing we could do to bring our daughter and wife back to life. However, with this insensitive acts from the FMC doctors, we are left with no other choice than to seek the path of legal action to get the necessary redress from the court of law.”