Ajima and Susan Ogbole, two Nigerian ladies whose medical treatments at AZ Sint-Jan Hospital in Belgium resulted to life-altering damages, on Tuesday addressed a press conference detailing thes frustrations they have encountered in the process of getting justice from Belgian hospital AZ Sint-Jan.
In March, FIJ had reported that Ajima’s cervix was mistakenly cut during a surgery by the hospital to remove fibroid. The situation rendered her unable to get pregnant and birth a child, prompting her sister-in-law, Susan, a mother of two, to act as a surrogate for her.
Susan became crippled after a ceasarean section carried out in the same hospital — a damage family members suspect was caused by an epidural anaesthesia that was improperly administered. The hospital denies, blaming an “African bacterium infection” — another assertion that has been medically invalidated.
Below, Ajima’s statement at the press conference:
My wish to naturally conceive a baby was ruined when about four (4) years ago, a doctor who operated on me to remove fibroids in my womb, mistaken amputated my cervix. After months of back and forth with volumes of expert medical analyses and reports, the hospital finally accepted responsibility for the medical error. The joy of the hospital admitting their error was short lived when their nominated insurance, Ethias, who was meant to negotiate and work out a compensation package with us, first rejected every expert study without presenting a reasonable argument from an expert in gynecology. It quickly became clear that there is a total absence of good faith on the side of both the insurance and the hospital, as the former continued to take instructions from the latter.
Matters were further complicated when through a complex combination of administrative, legal, medical and cultural factors, my sister-in-law Susan Ogbole, stepped in to be the surrogate mother for my baby. Though a healthy baby girl was carried and delivered by Susan for my husband and I, through a questionable process of administering epidural on Susan by the medical team, she got paralyzed from the waist down and has been on a wheelchair ever since her delivery 5 months ago.
My family has been through serious agony even as we are convinced that errors are human. For us it has always been a question of taking responsibilities and acting within the law, in good faith, to compensate for medical errors and help us begin to rebuild our lives. We have engaged professionals and medical experts to represent us in the negotiations aimed at sorting out these complex matters. After years of back and forth, it has become clear that the hospital, AZ Sint-Jan Bruges, acting through their insurance, Ethias, has abandoned good faith and chosen the unholy path of frustrating an already agonizing family through unnecessary threats of Court action should they continue to demand their rights. All reasonable proposals put before them have been put aside without tangible explanations or counter proposals. Reviewing their responses to reports from our multidisciplinary experts, it is disappointing to note that Ethias does not even bother to consult any expert in gynecology or fertility as well as medical error experts. Clearly AZ Sint-Jan has chosen, through advice from Ethias Insurance to frustrate us, threaten to drag the case in court and eventually force us to back out taking whatever they offer.
This state of affairs only reconfirms some of the incidents that led us in the first place to the sorry situation Susan and I are at present. In this regard, just two examples will suffice. Firstly, Ethias insurance sent Susan to the same orthopedic to evaluate an anesthesiology and neurological problem. Secondly, at some point the hospital claimed that Susan’s paralysis was caused by a bacterial infection and that it was an African bacterium. A bacterial infection contracted in hospitals occurs primarily through medical negligence. It is to be expected that medical experts would know that the means to such infection is by using an equipment during her epidural that was not properly sterilized.
As if the injustice against us by AZ Sint-Jan Bruges was insufficient, on 23rd March 2021, we received a most intimidating letter from them threatening to take us to Court for daring to speak out about the way they are treating us inhumanly. The threat and intimidation have only strengthened us resolve to elevate this matter as the public interest matter that it actually is. It cannot be that trusted medical personnel would constitute themselves into an untouchable cult and cannot be held accountable for their actions.
What we demand have been the same from inception. These are:
- Acceptance of medical errors / mistakes in Susan’s case
- A letter of unreserved apology in three national dailies in Belgium
- Take financial responsibility for all of Susan’s treatments
- To consider a bill to grant humanitarian stay to Susan and patients in Susan’s situation. This allows me to adopt my child. It is humanly inconceivable to render me incapable of carrying a pregnancy yet take away my ability to be the mother of my child born through surrogacy.
- AZ Sint-Jan should immediately and genuinely return to the negotiating table with our multidisciplinary experts to agree on a fair settlement for the damage done to our lives taking into consideration that my ability to carry my pregnancy has been taken away through their medical error and Susan paralyzed.
- Consideration of a legislation that sets up an independent Commission that adjudicates in matters where settlement impasse exists between patients and hospitals / Insurance companies.
All statements made above are backed by multidisciplinary expert reports or evidenced by communications from AZ Sint-Jan, AZ Sint-Jan Insurance Ethias and their lawyers and can be shared with all authorized third parties.
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