*We did our best to revive her – Doctors
By Gabriel Olawale
WHEN 26-year-old Chineye Nwafor travelled to India for a limb-correction surgery, she had no idea it was going to be a journey of no return. She was brought back dead.
An encounter with Mrs Joy Nwafor, mother of the deceased, at the entrance of the India High Commission in Lagos, threw light on the untimely death of the young graduate. Joy, 54, who told Sunday Vanguard that she accompanied her daughter on the trip, cried foul over the circumstances leading to the death.
Accompanied by sympathisers demanding justice through a peaceful protest at the High Commission, the bereaved mother put the blame at the doorsteps of the Fortis Hospital, India, where the surgery was carried out.
Displaying placards, the protesters were undeterred by heavily armed policemen manning the gates of the Commission. They alleged that Chineye’s death was a case of negligence and repeatedly demanded justice and release of the autopsy result from the hospital.
Narrating her story, Joy, from Dunukofia Local Government, Anambra State, said it all began last year just after her daughter obtained her first degree.
“Chineye had just graduated from University of Abuja and was preparing for her NYSC but the family decided that rather than just sit at home before her call-up, she should utilise the period to correct her deformed right limb which had been shortened as a result of a fall experienced in 2001,” She told Sunday Vanguard.
“Following the fall in which she broke her femur (thigh bone), she had a surgery which involved the insertion of k-nail (iron) to support the bone. The iron eventually broke and another surgery was necessitated to remove the pieces and also correct the shortened limb that was causing her a lot of pain.”
The bereaved mother went on: “The prayer of every mother is to train her child and, in turn, the child takes care of her when she’s old. That was not to be in my case as I watched my little Chineye, who had graduated only a month ago, die in my arms owing to the negligence of doctors at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, India.
“After the surgery, Chineye was upset. She raised fears over the surgery, claiming that one Dr Gupta, the senior consultant, had removed only one of the two pieces of the previously broken iron in her limb as opposed to earlier agreement that the two pieces would be removed before conducting the limb lengthening surgery. However, despite her complaints, the doctor assured her that everything would be fine.”
Joy revealed that after her discharge, it was noticed that the lengthening screw was stiff. They complained immediately, but were informed that the doctors were looking for the right size of iron for her height.
“After three days she was forced to go to the hospital. She walked in to the dressing room, but while they were changing the screw she gasped for breath and suddenly lost consciousness on the dressing table and was wheeled into the emergency room,” she narrated.
“Less than an hour after she was wheeled into emergency, I was informed that my daughter was dead. I was shocked; I could not believe my ears. I felt the world had come to an end, even in my state of shock, all that the hospital could do was demand additional payment as cost of trying to revive Chineye.
“When I walked into the room where she laid, I discovered they had already stuffed her nostrils with cotton wool while her body was still very warm. I immediately begged and cried helplessly that they should try to revive her but they heartlessly told me that there was nothing they could do, that she had died and had planned to convey her to the mortuary at the time.
“As a result of my insistence, the movement to the mortuary was delayed for two hours during which they blatantly refused to administer any procedure to revive her. Dr Raul later told me my daughter died of severe heart attack.”
Pointing out the first instance that convinced her that her daughter died of medical negligence, the mother recalled that on the first day she was wheeled into the theatre, the surgery was rescheduled because the iron was not the right size for her height even though she had done several physical consultations with the surgeon, Dr Raul.
“Second, a review of her medical records showed that no blood thinning medication was prescribed which is necessary for this kind of surgery. Third, even after the surgery, the doctors were still looking for the right size of iron. Fourth, only one piece of the previously broken iron was removed.
“Since her death, Fortis Hospital New Delhi has issued several conflicting statements on the cause of her death which only confirms my fears that Chineye was murdered and they have refused to release the autopsy result. They still claim to be investigating the cause of death. Meanwhile, they told us that it will only take two weeks for the autopsy result to be out.
“I have been crying since October 29, 2015. My heart bleeds and I know Chineye’s soul seeks justice. I speak as a mother who deserves to know the cause of her daughter’s death. I need the support of every Nigerian in this fight against this murderous act, injustice, oppression and wickedness. I am helpless but I believe that, with God on my side and with the support of Nigerians and the international community, the killers of my daughter will not escape justice.”
Fortis Hospital reacts
Reacting to the development through e-mail, the Second Secretary (Cons.), Office of the High Commission of India in Lagos, Mr. Jagdeep Kapoor, sympathized with the deceased’s family and assured proper investigation by the Indian authorities.
“First of all, we would like to extend, through your newspaper, our deepest condolences to the family on the passing away of Ms. Chineye Nwafor. We are in touch with the Indian authorities on the issue and hope to get a response soon. In the meantime, we have approached the hospital and their reply is as follows:
“Miss. Nwafor came to us for Limb Lengthening procedure, on September 28, 2015, which was done successfully. On October 7, 2015, Ms. Nwafor called Dr. Rahul Kaul to assess the progress. Despite our strict policy of doctors not visiting a patient’s place, Dr. Rahul Kaul made a special exception for Ms. Nwafor and visited her residence on the same day to alleviate her anxiety. Dr. Rahul Kaul examined the post procedure dressing and explained medications as advised already by the hospital.
“Thereafter, on October 8, 2015 Ms. Nwafor informed Dr. Rahul Kaul that one of the rods placed during the procedure appeared to be jammed. The hospital therefore asked Ms. Nwafor to visit for examination. During the examination, it was noticed that one of the distraction rods installed at the time of the above procedure had got jammed.
“This is commonly seen in such patients and it was decided that the distraction rods shall be replaced. In the procedure room of our hospital, the existing rods were maintained attached to the rings and four new rods were attached to both the rings and firmly fixed.
“After attaching four new rods, the pre-existing rods were removed so that the stability of the frame is not jeopardized at any point. After a while, Ms. Nwafor developed breathlessness and collapsed. We tried to resuscitate her but in spite of the best efforts she could not be revived.
“At the relevant time since the cause of death was unknown, the hospital contacted the police authorities. The police authorities took away the body of Miss Nwafor to carry out autopsy. The cause of death can only be ascertained after perusal of autopsy report which is to be collected by the police. The death summary, dated October 9, 2015, issued by the hospital, states cause of death as ‘Pending Investigation’. The police authorities will share findings of the autopsy directly with the family.”