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A journey of no return to LUTH

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If Akinbola David Akingbehin knew the trip his wife, Margaret Moronke, was making to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, was a journey of no return, on Thursday, February 28, he certainly would have stopped her. But fate has a way of playing a cruel joke on people.

Moronke was pregnant with the expectation that she would give birth to their third child. The couple already had two children, the younger is 12 years old. The choice of LUTH for the delivery was because they thought the hospital, being a tertiary institution, was the best around.

Moronke, being fairly old for child bearing at 42, should not be trusted with just any hospital to handle the delivery or so they thought. But that was their undoing. About 33 hours after Moronke checked into LUTH, she and her baby were dead. Reason: The hospital staff allegedly went negligent.

The whole story, infact, reeks of negligence on the part of the LUTH personnel. The management acknowledged that much in their letter of condolence to the Akingbehin family when they said the negligent staff were under investigation. Four of the staff, it was learnt, are already on suspension.

On that Thursday, February 28 when Moronke was leaving home at 6 a.m., for her ante-natal clinic at LUTH, she was hale and hearty, according to family sources. She, in fact, drove herself. About two hours later, however, she called home to tell the husband her doctor told her that she was due for Caesarean Section, CS, and that she had to be admitted in the hospital right away for the CS.

Actually, doctors at LUTH had told her earlier that because of her “old age for child bearing” coupled with the fact that she had an operation for fibroid removal earlier, it would be risky to allow her to go into labour ahead of the delivery of the baby. Her expected delivery date (EDD) was put at March 3.

Hence delivery ahead of labour was the reason Moronke was booked for CS when she visited LUTH on February 28 for ante-natal. The twist in events for the husband, Akinbola, was unexpected. But when the wife put a call through to him that the doctor had proposed that she be admitted for the CS that Thursday and that her position was that the operation should be shifted to the following Monday to allow her made adequate preparations, the husband’s statement was that she should follow the doctor’s instruction.

Akinbola actually visited Moronke at the LUTH female ward where she had been admitted that day. However, nothing happened as the CS was not carried out before the husband returned home that evening. By 7.30 a.m. the following day, Friday, March 1, when Akinbola called the wife, she told him that she had been moved to the labour room and that a consultant surgeon, later identified as Prof Makew, had come to question the doctor in charge of her case why the CS had not been carried out.

In essence, Moronke told the husband that the surgeon directed that the operaton should take place anytime thereafter. But by 8.30 a.m when Akinbola arrived LUTH, nothing had been done. The additional information Moronke gave the husband was that a machine that the consultant used to test her pregnancy indicated that the baby in the womb was already tired and needed to be brought out immediately.

The wife was said to have continually complained of excruciating pains in the stomach. But the LUTH personnel told the husband that they needed blood in case the wife would require it in the course of the CS. Akinbola donated some blood and called in his brother who also donated to make up the difference. Meanwhile, the wife was said to have been left in pains in the labour room without the personnel attending to her.

At some point, according to husband, the doctor who should have carried out the CS on Moronke was said to have gone to eat. And by the time he returned, he was too tired to attend to the pregnant woman.

The husband said it was not until 4p.m. that he was called into a doctor’s office adjoining the labour room where he had earlier been sent out because of his persistent calls that the LUTH personnel should attend to his dying wife to be informed that his wife and the baby she was carrying had died.

“It was like my whole world collapsed. We live in Jakande Estate, Isolo where we have a General Hospital close to us. There are also private hospitals that we could have used. But we considered LUTH as the best hospital to deliver her of the pregnancy since it is a tertiary medical institution.

That turned out to be our greatest mistake”, the tearful husband told Sunday Vanguard. “The LUTH staff were negligent. They killed my wife and our baby. What they told us was that she was to be delivered by CS. And she had been with them since Thursday morning.

What stopped the from carrying out the CS that Thursday knowing the danger my wife was exposed to. They waited till Friday, in fact about 33 hours after she arrived the hospital without attending to her, and I watched helplessly the agony of Moronke until she passed on”.

A family source said they would formally demand explanation on what happened from the LUTH authorities and possibly ask for damages. Moronke was buried amid tears by family and friends on Friday, March 8 at her Isolo, Lagos residence. Lending credence to the negligent circumstance of the death of Moronke and her baby, the LUTH authorities, last week, sent a six-man team to condole with the family.

According to a letter delivered to the family by the team during the visit, LUTH had begun an investigative/disciplinary process “to ensure that any of our staff found to be negligent in the unfortuante demise of your wife is sanctioned accordingly, to serve as a detterent to others”. The letter, dated March 8, was signed by the Director of Administration, Ayo Olagunju, for the CMD, Prof Akin Osibogun, who was said to be out of the country.

Indeed, four members of staff of the hospital implicated in the Moronke Akingbehin affair have allegedly been suspended pending the conclusion of investigations.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that this is the first time LUTH will act so swiftly in decades in cases of negligence involving staff.

The LUTH condolence letter reads: “Further to the Condolence Telephone Conservation between you and the undersigned earlier today, I write on behalf of the Management Board, and staff of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital to express our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences on the sad and untimely death of your wife, the late Mrs. Margaret Ronke Akingbehin and your unborn child, which occurred in our Hospital on Friday, 1st March, 2013.

“An amiable person, loved by all our staff who came across her, it is a sad twist of fate that your wife met her untimely death at the age of 42 in our Hospital where she registered and had been attending her Ante natal clinic regularly. We know that words alone cannot console you at this moment of tears; but our prayer is that God Almighty will grant you and the children the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.

“Please be rest assured that management has begun an investigative/disciplinary process to ensure that any of our staff found to be negligent in the unfortunate demise of your wife is sanctioned accordingly, to serve as a deterrent to others.

“Please extend our heartfelt condolences to your children and other members of the family”.


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