By Evelyn Usman.
A mild drama unfolded itself at New Evolution Hospital, in Ago area of Lagos, where 36-year-old Mercy Nnadi, whose one year-old son was killed by her husband, who also burnt her with hot pressing iron, over allegation that she was having a clandestine relationship with her father in-law, last Friday.
This followed the outright refusal of Doctor Benjamin Eze, to release Mercy to some Non-Governmental Organizations who opted to take her to a burnt specialist that would continue from where Dr. Eze stopped.
However, Crime Guard observed that Mercy was improving compared to the last time this reporter visited. For instance, the burns on her legs, stomach and parts of her back have healed. But the conspicuous wound on her chest, breast and close to her private part were still emitting fluid, a development the NGOs attributed to the cause of their intention to transfer the ailing woman to a specialist.
An earlier press statement issued by the NGO read: Project Alert on Violence against Women, in collaboration with Center for Organizational Development (COD) Nigeria and Zahara Women Foundation, successfully found a Plastic Surgeon and Burns Specialist at LASUTH; Consequently, Mercy will be moved on Friday, May 11, 2012 to his clinic for closer monitoring and adequate specialized treatments of the third degree burns she sustained. Mercy will remain at his private clinic pending the end of strike action, and most likely be moved to LASUTH thereafter.”
A strategic meeting for stakeholders in Mercy’s case was slated for last Friday at New Evolution Hospital, at the end of which Mercy was to be moved. But the movement never saw the light of the day, as the Doctor in-charge of the hospital kicked against it.
The first indication that signaled the NGOs abortive plan occurred when a bill of N1,786,500 which the stakeholders described as ‘outrageous and a far cry’ from what ordinarily should be, was presented by the doctor. The bill, according to the hospital was just for twenty days treatment. The reaction of all the stakeholders to the bill ignited the doctor’s anger and he vehemently reacted by saying that it was an indirect way of saying the bill was inflated.
In a swift reaction to the issued bill, the family protested that the hospital was never responsible for the feeding of Mercy, wondering why it should state the sum of N90,000 as feeding for twenty days. They also faulted the area of blood giving injection which the hospital said was N64,000, arguing that there was never a time blood was transfused into Mercy through drip.
However at the end of the hullabaloo, the visibly angry Dr Eze, was compelled to deduct the sum of N400,000 from his original bill. In a move to actualize Mercy’s statement, representatives of the concerned NGOs promised to issue a cheque of N200,000 and an additional cash payment of N100,000 same day, from Mercy’s personal account to offset the hospital bill.
However, when all seemed to be going smoothly, Dr Eze declined Mercy’s movement, hinging his argument stoutly on the NGOs inability to off set the medical bill. Following his action, an undertaken was at the verge of being signed where the NGOs promised to pay the balance of about N600,000 to New Evolution Hospital at the end of July, 2012. But the outright refusal by Dr Eze thwarted their efforts, as he stated that he would not allow Mercy to be taken from his hospital to another private hospital.
According to him, “ I will only release her if she is being taken to a government hospital and not private. It will look as if I am not capable of treating her. You can see for yourself that there has been a tremendous improvement than when she was brought. She will not die here. The time of fear of possible death has passed. All we are waiting for is time for the burn on the chest region to heal. She may likely do skin grafting. But that can not be done now because the area where skin will be taken from is the lap and as you can see, the burn there is still healing. She will need to be observed for another one month before that can be done”.
However, 65-year-old Pa Theodore Nnadi, Mercy’s father-in-law whose son accused of sleeping with his wife (Mercy) had earlier given his consent to the NGOs to assist his daughter in-law in soliciting financial support for her. According to Pa Nnadi, “ as it is, I and my wife and daughter have been the ones taking care of Mercy since the incident. But for the publications in Vanguard, there would not have been any response from members of the public.
“Tell me, if not for good Nigerians and these NGOs who want to continue with the good work, where will my family get over N1million to pay this bill? I am of the opinion that the NGOs go ahead with their plan of taking care of Mercy because I am not working”
In spite of this presentation by the representative of Mercy’s family, the doctor still insisted that he would resist attempts to take mercy to a better hospital. His refusal stalled the negotiation as members of the Non-Governmental Organizations including Crime Guard which witnessed the whole scenario, left the hospital, after a five-hour deliberation.
Meanwhile, reports from the hospital hinted that the wounded Mercy is presently left at the mercy of the hospital and nobody, especially members of her family, knows the next step to take towards helping her out of her condition. A Matron from the hospital who called Crime Guard last Thursday confirmed this much when she said that everybody has abandoned Mercy. The matron however debunked insinuations that their doctor was proving difficult during the negotiation with the stakeholders.
According to her, “when they came, some people started videoing the proceedings without our consent and we vehemently objected to that. God knows we have no ill-feelings towards genuine efforts to treat Mercy but all we are saying is that we should reach a compromise which will not in any way affect her health. After all, we started treating her without anybody coming to her aid.” she also hinted that some policemen from SCID, Panti visited the hospital but she could not disclose their mission.