In the typical traditional African setting, children are considered as must-haves for families and protection for old age, when the parents can no longer provide for themselves. Many people have dreams of raising a family, with as many children as they could care for. Therefore, the loss of a child is a big blow and a huge setback for many parents.
Sadly, that is exactly the situation Esan Oladotun is grappling with. A video of the 38-year-old technician, who hails from Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, but resident in Benin, Edo State, wherein he lamented the loss of two children, went viral on Instagram.
When our correspondent traced him to his residence located off Redeemed Church Road, off Sapele Road, Ekae, a suburb community in Benin City, the distraught man had yet to come to terms with the reality of his situation. He was still asking if his 13-year-old daughter, Oluwatunmise, the beginning of his generative power, was truly dead. Just two days before the death of Tunmise, Sandra, his wife, who was eight months pregnant, lost the baby.
Narrating his ordeal, Oladotun said his travails began with the loss of his unborn child who died in his wife’s womb about two weeks to his delivery, only to be followed by his 13-year-old daughter, Tunmise, a Junior Secondary School 3 pupil of Anointed Academy School. Tunmise died three days after the loss of the pregnancy.
Oladotun said Tunmise, who was preparing for her Junior School Certificate Examination (aka Junior WAEC), was the one giving him emotional support when his wife was undergoing surgery to remove the dead baby inside her.
He said: “I have been living with Sandra, my wife, for 18 years. We had three children and she was pregnant with our fourth child. I also have a stepdaughter.
“When the pregnancy was about seven months old, water began coming out of her. We went to see her doctor, and he recommend that she should go for a scan. From the scan, it was discovered that the baby was not in the right position. But the doctor assured us that everything would be fine. But even after treatment, the water was still coming out of her till last Monday, when the water began to smell. By this time, the pregnancy was already about eight and a half months old. “
According to the bereaved father, when on Monday, penultimate week, the smell from the water became unbearable, they decided to go back to the clinic, and she was promptly placed on admission. The following day, the result of another scan indicated that the baby had already died inside her and had to be evacuated by surgery. Thus, their fourth child was lost.
“After the removal of the dead child, I could not stand the sight of it, so I asked my mother-in-law and my stepdaughter to take it away for burial,” Oladotun said.
Meanwhile, Tunmise had been showing some symptoms of malaria and had been taking medication at home. But by Wednesday morning, she began to complain of body pains, especially in the ribs.
“I decided to take her to the clinic to see her mother and also get treated by the doctor. At the clinic, a laboratory test indicated that Tunmise had typhoid fever and malaria and she was promptly placed on admission in the same ward with her mother. She was however discharged the following day.
“On Thursday, her condition changed and got worse, so we went back to the clinic. Again, some injections were prescribed for her. After taking the injection, her breathing changed, but the doctor assured us that everything would be fine. So, I left for home that evening, leaving my daughter and her mother in the clinic.
“As I was leaving, I jokingly told Tunmise to get well quickly so that she would enjoy the things my mother brought from Ado-Ekiti for her or else I would eat them, and she told me she would get better soon.
“At about 4am the following day, Friday, I received a call that my daughter was in distress. She could no longer breathe and was bleeding from her nose, so she was being taken to the state-owned Central Hospital for treatment.
“When I arrived at the hospital, I called to know where she was, but was told that she had been referred to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital because there was no electricity at the central hospital. I was told that at UBTH, the doctor demanded money for oxygen and I told them that I would get money from the ATM at UBTH when I arrived there. But on my arrival there, I was told that my daughter had already died,” he narrated.
Thus, in three days, Oladotun lost his 13-year-old daughter and unborn child who perhaps could have been born in another one week or two. Little wonder that the man wept uncontrollably in the video.
“Imagine losing two children within three days. My wife is still at the clinic recovering from the surgery. She has yet to be told that her daughter is dead. I wanted my daughter to be buried immediately, but my wife’s relatives are insisting that an autopsy should be conducted to ascertain the actual cause of her death.”
The bewildered father said his late daughter was everything to him. He described her as a kind and lovable person.
He recalled, “My daughter was one of the best students in her school. She was already preparing for her ‘Junior WAEC’ exam. In her last class examinations, she had distinctions in all the subjects she offered. She was also in the drama group of Living Faith Church.
“She is the kind of daughter any parent will wish to have. She was frugal with money. Many times, she would save the money given to her to use to buy food and willingly give it to me to buy fuel for the generator, whenever I didn’t have any money on me. She always told us not to lose hope when we were having issues with the pregnancy.”
Reminiscing about his dreams and aspirations for his late daughter, Oladotun said he always told Tunmise how much he wanted her to study hard, read law and perhaps become a judge. Unfortunately, sudden and untimely death cut short that dream.
“I always wanted her to become a lawyer and maybe become a judge. That was my dream for her and she was actually studying hard for it,” Oladotun said.
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Oladotun, however, had some harsh words for the government and those running health facilities in the state. According to him, a lot has to be done to improve the way things are done at government hospitals.
“Honestly, I don’t know what they are doing in those hospitals. Imagine telling us that they didn’t have diesel to run their generator and demanding money from us to buy fuel for the generator before they could attend to us. It’s like they don’t care about people, human lives don’t mean anything to them. Government must do something about it,” he lamented.