The management of Bwari General Hospital in Abuja has explained the circumstances leading to the death of a woman who was delivered of a triplet in its facility.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the children had been left stranded after their mother died shortly after birth, and how the family requested public help for the kids.
According to the hospital management, the woman died from excessive bleeding.
Nkechi Okonya was due for delivery on April 20 and was rushed to a Primary Health Centre in Kogotu village in Bwari Area Council where she was delivered of one of the children prematurely at about 9:30 a.m.
She was later referred to Bwari General hospital when the remaining babies could not come out.
“For hours they kept telling her to push thinking the baby left inside her was just one but nothing came out so they now referred her to Bwari General hospital,” her cousin, Chinwendu Ekwunife, told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mrs Ekwunife blamed Bwari hospital for further delaying the delivery, thereby worsening her cousin’s situation. “I don’t know what happened but the doctors and nurses there still held on until about 5 p.m. before they wheeled her into the theatre.”
The hospital’s managing director, Osanyande Osagie, later told PREMIUM TIMES that the general hospital tried its best to save the woman, but claimed her late arrival at the facility did not help.
“The patient was transferred from Kigotu PHC in Bwari. The referral letter wrote 10:am but the woman got to our hospital around 4 p.m. and by 5 p.m. she was already in the theatre but her situation is already complicated,” he said during a visit to PREMIUM TIMES.
“We were able to deliver the remaining two children through operation but then she had lost a lot of blood to the point that the body can no longer control itself and it now moves to what we call the CIC. We have to go out of the way to get blood for her because we could not get anything tangible from her husband who was already drunk. We gave her four pints of blood before she finally died.”
But Mrs Ekwunife insisted the pregnant woman was at the hospital at 1 p.m. — four hours earlier than the hospital claimed.
Mr Osagie also denied a claim by relatives that they were driven out of the hospital in the night of delivery.
“No we did not drive them away. They left in the morning around 7am. You can ask them, we did not collect a dime from the family for all the services we rendered because we saw how complicated the situation was and we are more keen on saving the life first. We have two ambulance in the facility unlike what they said.”
PREMIUM TIMES visited the health centre at Kogotu, Bwari area council, where the first of the triplets was delivered. The facility was deserted because of the ongoing health workers’ strike which has crippled federal, state and local government hospitals and has left millions without care for more than a month now.
An adhoc staff working for a nongovernmental organisation that runs free HIV test at the facility confirmed she was aware of the matter but could not give further details as she was not a staff of the hospital.
Based on PREMIUM TIMES assessment, travelling the primary health centre for the general hospital would not take beyond five minutes on motorcycle. Commercial motorcyclists charge N50 for the distance.
The general hospital said a committee had been set up to review the woman’s death.
“We have reviewed this case in the hospital. We invited the person in charge of the PHC in Bwari where she had the first child. We also invited the directorate of health in Bwari Area Council,” said Mr Osagie.
“The PHC should have even referred her earlier from the period of antenatal not during delivery because they have no business doing that. We have surveillance on maternal death. Every death is reviewed and every body involved is scored so as to prevent recurrence.”
On the findings of the committee, Sunday Joji, the head of the department of health at the area council said the objective of the review was not for fault-finding but to improve service delivery in the hospitals involved.
“What we did is the maternal death review. It is not a public record or fault finding. It is for the hospitals involved to improve their services in areas that there are lapses. If there was an issue of delayed referrals or delay in operation or administration of drugs, we look at the issues critically to avoid recurrence,” he said.
“It will be punitive if we make this review investigative and fault finding and when it is so, people will not tell you exactly what happened.”
Mr Joji, a medical doctor, said one of the challenges of the health centre was lack of an ambulance.
“The PHC does not have an ambulance and that added to the challenges the woman faced, you can refer someone and she might branch to see his pastor to pray or might not have money for transportation,” he said.
“The only way we can get to the button of this is through autopsy and even if we want to to that, who will pay? Autopsy is costly here. In other climes autopsy is a must in any case of death but here it is nothing less than N400,000.”
He also blamed the parents of the triplets for not doing family planning.
“They should have done proper family planning because they are not well to do from the looks of things. The children are currently stranded because there is no money to take care of them. We should take family planning seriously because currently we have one of the highest maternal death rate in the world so pregnancy is almost like a death penalty talk more of when there is no money and capacity to take care of them.”
The lifeless body of late Mrs Okonya is yet to be buried. It is currently deposited at a mortuary in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
Her five children has been sent down to Ebonyi state to start a new life with there mothers’ elder sister, Ogonnaya Obasi – currently unemployed.
It remains to be seen what life holds for the triplet as relatives struggle to get help for their upkeep.