Princewill Chigbu, the boy whose health was allegedly tampered with at Babcock University Teaching Hospital when his widowed mother took him there on referral from the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for a surgery to repair the hole in his heart, has died.
He died on Tuesday morning, hours after his family noticed that he was ‘swelling’ and unconscious, and had to rush him to hospitals, including The Eko Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja in the middle of the night. They rejected him.
“We noticed he was swelling weeks before and we gave him a drug he normally uses; he was stabilised but the swelling started again so we rushed him to the hospital late in the night,” said Olugbade Olatunji, a family friend and confidant who witnesed Princewill’s final moments.
“The hospitals were all rejecting and referring us. On seeing him, they noticed that he was swollen. In the car, while we were moving from one hospital to another, Princewill woke up and even spoke. But he gave up the ghost before we could even get him the medicine he takes.”
BABCOCK UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL IGNORED PRINCEWILL AFTER DISCHARGING HIM
Princewill’s health worsened shortly after he walked into the BUTH’s Tristate Heart and Vascular Centre in January during pre-surgery procedures, his mother Franca Chigbu told FIJ in March.
Franca said she noticed that her son, who was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (also called hole in the heart) — a rare condition present at birth and caused by a combination of four heart defects that affect the structure of the heart and cause oxygen-poor blood to flow out of the heart and to other parts of the body — was given antibiotics overdose and excess IV fluid.
“This patient has Tetralogy of Fallot; his heart cannot take so much fluid. It is possible that it is so bad that the child cannot take in fluids — because the fluid that is given is pumped by the heart, and the heart, in this case, is weak because of the defects,” a medical expert told FIJ.
Despite Princewill’s deteriorating condition, the family said that the BUTH was more concerned about the N5,000,000 deposit the family raised with donations from members of the public.
FIJ was told that the BUTH eventually returned N3,000,000 to the family while N2,000,000 was deducted to “treat a problem they created and not the surgery that the boy had come to do”.
When Princewill was discharged, doctors at the BUTH told the family that they would be told when to return for the surgery to mend the hole in his heart. They never did.
“BUTH ignored us after giving us a timeline to use a particular drug and then bring him back. When the drug finished and we contacted them, they didn’t answer. The front desk people would tell us that they would revert to us, but they didn’t,” Olugbade said.
“The swelling started when we had finished using the drug and we were calling them but they ignored us. They refused to give us documents, such as the hospital card, that would show that we were ever at the hospital.”
When Princewill died, the family told FIJ that they called Dr John Sotunsa, the Director of Clinical Service at the BUTH, to inform him, but he was dismissive.
“He just laughed and dropped the call,” Olugbade said.
DISTRAUGHT FAMILY STRUGGLING TO MOVE ON
Franca finds it hard to believe that her son has died. It had been a shock experience for the widowed mother of four. Although FIJ could not speak to Princewill’s mother, Olugbade said the house had become a sad reminder of how the boy died.
“The mother is still traumatised. She said she did not want to see any of the boy’s things around because they were still painting pictures in her head. While one sibling insisted on keeping a sweater Princewill used to wear, the other did not want to stay in the house,” Olugbade said.
When contacted, John Sotunsa, Director of Clinical Service at the BUTH, who initially said he was in a meeting, neither answered calls to his phone nor replied to text messages sent to him hours later.
“There is difference between when you are seeing people putting effort to something and if it results in something negative, you know that these people actually put in effort,” Olugbade said about BUTH’s handling of Princewill’s treatment.
“They are actually the ones who caused most of these things. I think they were engrossed with the mentality that we had an NGO backing us and using every means to buy time so that the NGO would bring more money to their account,” Olugbade said.
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