A man who was present as his sister bled to death shortly after giving birth to triplets in an Abuja general hospital, has given details of the tragedy, blaming the hospital and the deceased’s husband.
The touching story, reported first by PREMIUM TIMES in May, shocked Nigerians as the family sought help for the stranded boys and their two older siblings.
The woman, Nkechi Okonya, is yet to be buried two months after her death at Bwari General Hospital, her family said.
The management of the hospital initially disputed the account given by the victim’s cousin, Chinwendu Ekwunife, who said the woman did not receive adequate attention at the hospital for hours.
“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,” she told PREMIUM TIMES in May.
The hospital’s managing director, Osayande Osagie, told this newspaper at the time that the hospital tried its best to save the dying mother, but claimed her late arrival at the facility did not help. He claimed the family paid nothing for the service.
“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,” he said.
“…We had 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.”
But Mrs Okonya’s younger brother, Obinna Oleh, who was with her all through, but initially declined to speak, opened up finally, accusing the hospital of “recklessness and money consciousness”.
Disputing Mr Osagie’s claim, he denied that the family paid nothing.
“It is a lie. They did not attend to my sister promptly because of money. They are lying. I came to the facility with N120,000 but I left with only N15,000 and this hospital is claiming they did not collect a dime from us?
“I lost my sister due to their negligence and mistreatment and I am blaming the staff and management of the hospital entirely because if you cannot treat a patient on emergency without money at hand at a government hospital, then why are we Nigerians? Even when we paid for everything including blood transfusion yet they still delayed till 6 pm,” he said.
“The staff of this hospital deserve to be sanctioned and given proper training because we are talking about lives.
“I am not doing this for myself but for other pregnant women that will come there and pass through such ordeal. This is why most rich Nigerians go abroad or private hospitals for treatment.”
Contacted after the brother’s claim, the hospital chief, Mr Osagie, amended his earlier claims.
He told PREMIUM TIMES by phone that the family paid for other services and items, except surgery.
“They only paid for other requirements but did not pay for the surgery because we treated the case as an emergency. If they claim they did, let them provide receipts for the surgery to prove it.”
Mr Obinna also confirmed earlier claims that the woman’s husband fled during the crisis and only showed up later, drunk. He said the husband blamed the dying woman of complicating their situation by giving birth to triplets.
“He later came in drunk as usual in the evening and was shouting and blaming his wife (my sister) for giving birth to a triplet. I nearly fought with him but people were holding me. We now pushed him out of the hospital,” he said.
Efforts to reach the husband, Emeka Okonya, 40, who hails from Ugwuta in Imo State, were unsuccessful.
Mrs 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.
According to Mr Oleh, her sister is yet to be buried because her husband has not fulfilled “marriage rites as the custom of our people in Arochukwu demands.”
Her five children have been sent to Ebonyi state to start a new life with there mothers’ elder sister, Ogonnaya Obasi.
“My mother is yet to recover from the shock of my sister’s death. Taking care of these children is a huge burden for us. My sister’s husband is not contributing anything. He is still struggling to complete the marriage rites and subsequently, the burial,” Mr Oleh, a public servant who earns N25,000 monthly, said.