Tears flowed on Saturday at a cemetery in the Ayobo area of Lagos State as family and friends of a 10-year-old sickle cell patient, Daniella Ojimi, laid her remains in a grave.
The family, however, blamed her death on the negligence of two health workers at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, whom they said treated the family with indifference when Daniella was rushed to the facility.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the Junior Seconary School one pupil was rushed to the hospital after she had a crisis on Saturday.
A doctor on duty in the children ward was alleged to have rejected the victim on discovering that she had sickle-cell anaemia.
It was alleged that the doctor, without administering any first aid or giving a referral letter to the family, told them to take her to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.
The victim was said to have, however, died shortly afterwards.
The victim’s father, Dele Ojimi, said when the family made a scene on the premises of the hospital, the Managing Director, Bolaji Adebiyi, intervened and criticised the action of the doctor.
The female doctor was alleged to have asked the victim’s father to buy a form and a file for the dead child as she attempted to save face.
Dele said, “We initially rushed the child to a health centre and we were referred to the Alimosho General Hospital. When we got there, we were asked to go to the children ward.
“The female doctor we met there was nonchalant; she told us that it was none of her business. One of her colleagues shouted at us that we were blocking the way. They said there was no bed space.
“I was taking my daughter out when she urinated on me. Her mother then shouted that she had passed on. I rushed her back to the hospital and begged the doctor to do something.
“She asked me to put her on a stretcher. She brought out her stethoscope to check her heartbeat. Suddenly, the doctor said there was nothing she could do and left. I asked her what happened and she said the girl was an SS patient and asked why I brought her to the hospital.
“When we made a scene on the premises, the medical director came out. He asked me to identify the doctor and the other worker on duty, which I did. The MD asked the doctor if she gave us any referral letter or if she gave the child a first aid; but she did not say anything. The MD got annoyed with her and promised to take up the matter with her.
“It was when she had passed on that the doctor said I should go and buy a form,a folder and then I should bring the PCV result. She then scribbled something on a paper.”
The victim’s mother, Mrs Oluwatoyin Ojimi, said her daughter still demanded water in the hospital, adding that she could have survived if the doctor was compassionate.
She noted that three other patients died around the same time that her daughter died.
“There were three other people who died in our presence in the hospital. The security men at the hospital told us the doctors were usually nonchalant,” she added.
A lawyer, Samuel Adeyemo, said the family planned to write a petition to the state government on the matter.
“While I believe that this is a case of gross negligence, I also believe the government needs to invest more in the health sector. We should get to a situation where all of us can get treatment in this country. To be fair, the hospital is short-staffed. We need to have more doctors. Besides, the doctors need to have good human relationship. It is unfortunate that people who don’t have connections or know medical personnel get badly treated in our hospitals,” he said.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the deceased was the second of three children.
The Medical Director of the hospital, Adebiyi, denied that the child died from negligence, saying she was in a bad condition when she was brought to the medical facility.
He said, “I was in the hospital from 11am and left around 5.30pm yesterday (Saturday). I was going out when I saw a crowd; they were angry. I intervened to know what happened. I understood that they had brought a child with a PCV (measurement for amount of blood in the body) of seven per cent and the child was a sickler. It was a very bad case. A PCV of seven per cent has a poor prognosis.
“It was a busy day with a large turnout at the hospital. They had actually gone to the emergency section and they did not have any space to admit the child. So, I guess the doctor was trying to tell them there was no space. But the relations, understandably became agitated and desperate as they sought an intervention.
“But the case was a bad one. Even the intervention that could have been done at that time would have been to do a blood transfusion and other things. The child died within 30 minutes of getting to the hospital. But the grouse was that the doctor asked them to go to another hospital and there was no bed space.
“There were two doctors on duty at the time: a doctor who is a member of the National Youth Service Corps and a permanent worker, who was busy at the theatre. The young doctor was at the emergency.
“A PCV of seven is very bad. I don’t know where the child has been before she was brought. I assisted them and even paid for the ambulance that took the child away. The child’s father also understood my point and I think the agitation was because the child died.”