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How Kaduna journalist’s wife laboured for hours without doctors on duty

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From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

For Kaduna-based journalist, Mr. Sola Ojo, and his wife, November 4, 2023, will ever remain indelible and traumatic in their lives. It was on that day that Ojo’s pregnant wife went into labour at midnight in their residence in the Ungwan Boro area of Kaduna city, after eight years of waiting on God for the fruit of the womb.

When it dawned on him that it was an emergency, he drove his wife in his car to a nearby hospital, where they  quickly referred his wife to Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital, owned by the Kaduna State government.

Ojo told Daily Sun that his wife actually went into labour at exactly 1.30am that fateful day. While lamenting the ugly incident, Ojo said he explored every available option to save his wife and the baby but the system failed him. He lost the baby but his wife survived the traumatic experience.

He said they approached Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital (BDTH) as well as the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital (44NARH) in Kaduna metropolis at exactly 3am and 3:35am, respectively, only to discover that there was no doctor on duty to carryout a caesarian section (CS) on his wife at that odd hour.

However, the chief medical director (CMD) of Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Professor Abdulkadir Musa Tabari, said he doubted if Ojo and his wife had a patient registration number with the hospital, adding that they might have approached an old unit of the emergency ward of the hospital where he wouldn’t have found any medical personnel to attend to them.

Tabari said: “Did Sola have patient registration number? It is very unlikely because, when a patient comes tothe hospital and opens a card, this card number will be sent to a doctor.

“It is very unlikely to come to a hospital like this and there will be nobody to attend to his wife. If you came to the hospital, where exactly did you enter? We have a compound report that captures whatever transpired 24/7 and there was no such record. Probably Sola checked the old accident and emergency unit, which is now a clinic. And that was where the mixup came from.

“The first thing you should have said was that you brought a sick person and a card would be opened for you. I would have been able to trace who was supposed to attend to you.

“The whole situation is odd to me. There is no time you come to this hospital that you will not find anybody. There are doctors, cleaners and nurses on ground.   If there is an issue, even in the dead of the night, they will call me.”

Ojo said: “It was an emergency situation, having been to another hospital from where a verbal referral was made for us to visit Barau Dikko hospital.

“Even if we had registered with the facility, who could have attended to us when we came in that night with no one in sight? Are they not trained to save lives first? We would have gladly paid any amount for the so-called patient registration, if we had met someone.

“Instead of learning to put their house in order, they are busy denying and finding fault. These people just have a long way to go. Can you imagine what a CMD is saying? What a country!”

Ojo said he called the contacts of some of the doctors he had working relationship with as a journalist but they all failed him as none of them answered his calls, only to call back in the morning to apologise.

He further shared the experience he had that fateful day, saying: “After eight years of our marriage solemnisation with much prayer and effort, God remembered us; we became expectant parents. We took everything from the spiritual and physical realms about our baby very seriously. After all, we waited for her.

“On that Saturday, November 4, at about the time I mentioned, we raced down to these two hospitals at breakneck speed to save the mother and our very precious gift whose time to be introduced into the world was due.

“Behold, there was no doctor on duty at the maternity section of a supposedly reputable hospital like 44NARF because of the antecedent of its owner, the great Nigerian Army, known for its high level of professionalism laced with discipline.

“I remember we met two nurses at the facility who advised us to move to another hospital. The two of them suggested Barau Dikko. Though they felt concerned, but this was not about “push -push” delivery they could possibly handle.

“Again, we raced down to Barau Dikko. On getting there at about 3:25am that same day, I was moving from one unit to the other banging on the doors and shouting ‘anyone here’, ‘any doctor or nurse on duty.’ There was a pin-drop silence all over the place, except for a few people who were fast asleep on the hospital terrace. I suspected they were also stranded Nigerians in need of medical attention.

“At about that time, my loving wife was already getting tired. She was trying not to show it by singing praises. My wife is a child of God. She cares and loves people around her to a fault. She was singing just to keep our hope alive. That also helped in fixing my eyes on our maker, especially after being faithful in my marriage for eight years and eight months.

“While at Barau Dikko Hospital, God dropped the idea of calling one Dr. Thompson who works at  a private specialist hospital. At a dial, he picked up and asked us to return to Ashmed Hospital that he too would be leaving his house at Mahuta, off Ibrahim Yakowa bypass, Kaduna.

“Calculating the distance between Mahuta in Kaduna South to Agwa New Extension as well as the distance between Barau Dikko to the same address, I realised I needed to drive to stay alive. The idea of trying Saint Gerard Catholic Hospital, Kakuri, which is just on our way did not occur to me.

“We arrived about five minutes ahead of Dr. Thompson. As soon as he came in, he directed the nurse on duty to immediately prepare my wife for the theatre.

“That was around a few minutes past 4am. By 6:04am, the nurses who were together with Dr. Thomson shouted ‘attendants’ twice, indicating that the surgery was over.

“All this while, I could not sit, I could not stand. I was walking around, praying for God who started His work to perfect it through these health workers.

“At 6:10am, the theatre doors were opened and a stretcher was taken in by the two attendants. I was expecting to hear the cry of a baby but none.

“Again, I was expecting the nurses and attendant going in and out of the theatre to say to me ‘congratulations’, but again, nothing of such.

“Honestly, by that time, I became more apprehensive but kept praying and hoping for the best. Then they brought my wife on the stretcher with a drip stand being held by one of the attendants

“Of course, anesthesia would have been injected into her before the operation to prevent her from instantly feeling the pain associated with it. Thank God,  the operation was successful. My wife came out alive. But my girl could not survive it. We lost her just like that.

“No prolonged labour, nothing. We did not miss any antenatal and recommended scanning while she was carrying the pregnancy. They later called me to come and see my gift. I saw her. She looked just like her father. I could not tell my wife that our baby who we saw kicking a few hours before the whole episode was no more.

“I beheld the child and tears freely rolled down my cheeks even when I needed to pretend to my wife that all was well. After a few hours, my wife was regaining her consciousness.

“I was by her bed. Holding her hands and speaking to her soothingly to fast-track her recovery process. I had watched this severally in movies. I applied it and it worked.

“As soon as her eyelids moved, she asked faintly, “Ademi (meaning, My Crown), where is my baby?” I was not expecting that question so I could not come up with a convincing response as the tears dropped.

“I then summoned courage and told her that the nurses were getting her baby ready for onward initiation to breastfeeding within an hour of birth.

“That was how I kept applying wisdom until about 40 hours later when we let the cat out of the bag. She wept bitterly. Luckily, I had several well-wishers who joined me in persuading her to hope for the best.

“In all our travails, we were constantly being reminded that God is God and He is very much with us in our circumstances. This time around, God worked through Ashmed Specialist Hospital, Kaduna. Some nurses and attendants at the facility, which time and space will not permit me to mention, did wonderfully. Family is everything. This time around, we found this family in our homes, workplaces and worship places.

“To our daughter, who we could not save, please, forgive us. We did all we could but the system in our land failed all of us. We hope you will represent us well above there, being an innocent soul who lived in the womb for nine months. Daddy loves you. Mummy loves you. Your maker loves you more.”

In October last year, the chairman, Kaduna State chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Madaki Sheyin, had said that Nigerian doctors were poorly paid and overworked, rendering them too miserable and economically uncomfortable to remain on the job.

Sheyin added that Nigerian doctors also lacked work tools and had become targets for kidnapping.

He also raised concerns over the brain drain of his colleagues in the last seven years, amid deadly diseases in the country that required more medical doctors.

He had said: “Let me inform you all that the Nigerian doctor is poorly paid, overworked, lacks necessary work tools and has become a target for kidnap.

“The Kaduna doctor is even worse hit by these poor welfare conditions. Doctors in the state’s employ as of today receive only 60% of the CONMESS salary scale, a far cry from what those in the federal service and other states are receiving.

‘We call on our governments to quickly declare emergency action in Nigeria’s health sector for the sake of her citizens.

“Let me commend the Kaduna State government for significant infrastructural development projects, especially in the area of primary healthcare but I must state that it needs to do more in the area of human resources for health to reverse the worrying trend of brain drain, especially among younger generation doctors.”

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