Mrs Franca Chigbu, a widow whose son’s health deteriorated following suspicion that he was repeatedly given antibiotics overdose and excessive IV fluid drip when he was admitted to the Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre, Babcock University Teaching Hospital (BUTH) to undergo a surgery to correct the hole in his heart, says that although the surgery was suspended due to Princewill’s worsened health, BUTH wants her to pay for the problem they caused.
FIJ had reported that it took Mrs Chigbu, who does menial jobs and whose husband died eight years ago, many months to raise N5 million for her son’s surgery. She had raised concerns that since the surgery was suspended, the hospital planned to use up the N5million deposit on treatments unrelated to the surgery.
“Because they have the N5million deposit with them and they believe that because of my status, I can’t do anything to them even when I am extorted,” Mrs Chigbu told FIJ. “If they had done their job well, initially, my boy would have been well and maybe we would have left this place.”
After FIJ first reported the story in February, officials of the BUTH, a missionary hospital owned by a religious group, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, scrambled to hold a meeting lasting over an hour with Mrs Chigbu to assure that her son would be treated and that as regards payment, the hospital would support her.
The family told FIJ that BUTH officials avoided providing answers to questions asked during the meeting.
“We observed that the officials parried our questions about what really happened to the boy and that the person taking the minutes of the meeting never noted the questions we asked,” Olugbade Olatunji, who was at the meeting, told FIJ.
Few weeks after the meeting, Mr Omokere, Manager, Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre, told the Chigbus that the cost of treating Princewill was still running and the family would be responsible for it.
“Money is going, money is flowing and we will continue to explain that consumables are there, which you are using, so we will have to be conscious of that. The mainstay is that the cost of the surgery is fixed,” Mr Omokere said.
“We don’t want to discharge him when he is not fit for surgery… Just bear it in mind that there is cost of running, so I don’t know the side which your sponsor will take to look at it. Even that cost of surgery, we have dipped a lot of hands into it… And that was the question she (Mrs Chigbu) was asking in that meeting that are we still going to pay; which I am afraid we want to say yes.”
Weeks after coming out of coma, suspected to have been caused by anti-biotics overdose and excess IV fluid drip, Princewill’s family members noticed that he had problems with his sight, his speech and his memory. Although BUTH medical officials said that the teenager had stroke, they could not tell the family why it happened.
“They said he has something in the brain. Like he has stroke. They just kept telling us big terminologies. Even the speech doctor they brought was surprised that he has stroke,” Olatunji, who has been with the family since they arrived at BUTH, said.
“If you tell him to sit, even when he is close to the chair, he would stretch his hands like the chair was far. When you ask him something, he would repeat many times as if trying to remember the answer and he would utter words slowly like he’s learning how to talk.”
Mrs Chigbu sees BUTH’s decision to charge her for expenses which became necessary following the hospital’s mismanagement of her son’s treatment as a shakedown.
When FIJ contacted BUTH’s Mr Omokere for comments, he declined. But the boys mum remains disconsolate.
“My son walked in into this place (BUTH) by himself. When we arrived, he got on the bed by himself and even played video game, how come he now has stroke?” she asked.
“All I wanted was for him to get well, but they worsened his condition; Why should they make me pay for their mistake?”
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.