A child on emergency oxygen supply narrowly cheated death on Sunday night after electricity supply to the Children Emergency Section of the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital was suddenly interrupted leaving the patient gasping for breath, a witness has told PREMIUM TIMES.
Michael Eze, an American-based academic, who took a relative’s son to the hospital at the time, said he was shocked that the hospital had no back-up electricity supply, thereby endangering the lives of kids on emergency treatment.
“This is the disaster called Enugu state teaching hospital. There are children in the children emergency ward. Light just went off and there was no back up electricity, Worse still – one of the kids was on oxygen supply when the light went off. But this is not new, the children emergency ward has not had back up electricity for weeks. The sorry state of tonight event was watching nurses and doctors making desperate efforts to stabilize the kid on oxygen,” Mr. Eze wrote in an email to this newspaper.
He later narrated to one of our editors by telephone how nurses struggled frantically to save the child’s life by manually pumping oxygen into his lung after the blackout at 9.10 p.m.
“It was really sad,” Mr. Eze said. “I could see the child dying before our very eyes because oxygen supply to him was suddenly interrupted. Initially, the doctors and nurses were unmoved. They didn’t make any effort. They were just bidding their time. I couldn’t bear it and I raised an alarm and threatened to go to the press if anything happened to the patient.
“They started pumping oxygen into him manually and eventually between 2 and 3 a.m., electricity supply was restored and the patient was barely able to make it alive. The child was just struggling to be alive.”
Mr. Eze said doctors at the hospital told him that what happened was not new and that that section of the hospital had a power inverter that had since stopped functioning well.
“When I initially started complaining, there were telling me ‘it appears you don’t live in this country. It’s nothing new. There are times there won’t be electricity supply for weeks’. They were just telling me cock and bull story.”
The lecturer said even the boy he and his relatives took to the hospital for treatment was not attended to because of the power cut.
“As far as we are concerned, the boy was an emergency case but we were told he could not be tested because there was no electricity. That we had to come back tomorrow (today).”
Mr. Eze said he became sadder when he learnt that while the children emergency ward was in darkness, the “big men” residential quarters of the hospital had electricity supply.
“This is really really sad and I weep for this country,” he said.
Authorities of the hospital could not be reached to comment for this story at this time.
When contacted Monday morning via the contact telephone listed on the university website, an official who introduced himself as the institution’s director of ICT, said he would only be able to provide contact information of officials of the hospital “later in the day”.