l‘We meant well but odds stacked against us’
By Evelyn Usman
Lagos —Fresh facts have emerged on the circumstances that led to the death of 58-year-old cyclist, Afolabi Mabogunje, at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, last month.
Late Mabogunje, an Information Technology consultant, was waiting for his co-cyclists at Shodex area, Anthony, on Ikorodu road, at about 5 am, when a robbery gang operating on a motorcycle accosted him.
In the gang’s bid to dispossess him of his phone, they stabbed him on both sides of the neck, which affected his right jugular vein. He was also stabbed in the right side of the chest and left arm and abandoned in the pool of his blood.
Determined to live, the cyclist managed to ride his bicycle to a place, from where he contacted his wife, a Medical Doctor, through a good Samaritan’s phone.
He was reportedly rushed to the Gbagada General Hospital where doctors sutured the smaller wounds before he was referred to LASUTH, where he died five days after he underwent surgery.
His family members had accused LASUTH of causing his death, disclosing that it took the tertiary hospital five and half hours to carry out surgery on him.
His younger sister, who is also a medical doctor, was quoted as saying that LASUTH’s delay created a tragic twist, arguing that if he had got a blood transfusion 30 minutes on arrival, he would have survived.
But the Chief Medical Director, CMD of the tertiary hospital, Prof. Adetokunbo Fabamwo, who expressed sympathy over Mabogunje’s death, attributed the strike action embarked by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors, NARD as the cause for the delay.
He said, “We are not joining issues but there is a need to add the missing link to the whole issue. LASUTH was in the sixth week of the national resident doctors strike at the time of this event. Clinical activities were virtually paralysed. Emergency services being offered by Consultants did not go beyond stabilisation and referral to other hospitals not affected by the strike action.
“In addition, because of the prolonged strike action, our blood bank had to be decongested and all available pints of blood taken to Ifako Ijaye General Hospital where they could be put to good use before expiration.
“The question will then be, why did we agree to take in this gentleman despite all the known constraints occasioned by the strike action.”
“He was the husband of one of us and we were determined to do everything possible to save his life. The other option we had was to stabilise him and ask that he be taken elsewhere. Indeed, we mustered all the human resources required to manage his case.
“The surgeons were summoned and they were all on the ground.
He needed blood, we knew we didn’t have but we also knew that Lagos State operates a centralised blood transfusion system and so we contacted Gbagada Blood Transfusion Service. They offered to bring blood with an ambulance but some friends of the gentleman offered to ride to Gbagada to bring the blood. These were all beyond the control of LASUTH. The surgery started immediately and blood was available.
“We believe that the strike action played a major role in this sad event. We had asked ourselves over and over again whether it was a bad decision to have taken the deceased in believing we were best suited to deal with his case. He needed a vascular surgeon, a thoracic surgeon as well as a general surgeon and we had all of them on standby to operate.
“We knew it was unlikely this combination of experts would be available in any other facility apart from LUTH, which was also paralysed by the national strike. We also knew that we could manage his postoperative period in our Critical Care Unit, which incidentally was not affected by the strike action.
“We meant well but circumstances staked some odds against us. LASUTH works very well under normal circumstances but even the best set-up can be thoroughly messed up when there is strike action. Once again, we condone with the family”, Fabamwo said.