Tuesday, May 18, 2021 10:33 pm
By Nehru Odeh
Peju Ugboma, founder and CEO of I Luv Desserts did not only love life, she also had big dreams. And she left exemplary imprints wherever she went. But that was cut short abruptly when the 41-year- old lady went to Premier Specialist Medical Centre, Victoria Island in Lagos on Thursday 22nd April, 2021 for uterine fibroid operation.
That surgical operation however went awry, as a result of gross medical negligence on the part of the doctors who handled the surgical operation at Premier Specialist Medical Centre. Peju’s health not only deteriorated after the surgery – as she had internal bleeding which the doctors couldn’t detect and stop – she also lost her life four days later on Sunday, 25 April, 2021, at Evercare, where she was rushed when the surgical operation at Premier Specialist Medical Centre went tragically wrong. She is survived by her husband Ijoma Ugboma, two lovely daughters and an 80 -year- old mother.
Intriguing? Still, an independent autopsy carried out at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, revealed that Peju had suffered internal bleeding. It was discovered that she had about two litres of blood in her abdomen and pelvic area.
Peju’s death was one too many. However, the most painful thing about it is that it was avoidable. Not only did Peju walk to the hospital herself, she had no prior medical condition before the surgery. As a result, Ugboma, Peju’s husband whom she met in 1998 as students at the University of Lagos, is inconsolable and grieving the avoidable loss of his wife. Ugboma believes his wife’s death was avoidable and caused by sheer negligence and malpractice on the part of the doctors.
According to him the doctors who handled the surgical operations have many questions to answer. Ugboma is currently seeking justice for the avoidable loss of his beloved wife. In a bid to seek redress, he has employed the services of rights activist and former president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN.
“We are here today not only to seek justice for Peju, but also for the thousands of victims of a faulty healthcare system. We use this medium to call for healthcare reforms where patients will have rights and know their rights, and where doctors will be held accountable for malpractices and negligence,” Ugboma told newsmen in a chat on Tuesday, 18 May 2021. In that briefing he gave a graphic account of the unfortunate events that led to the death of his wife, the apparent negligence, inefficiency, incompetence and malpractice in that medical centre and the many financial commitments he made just to make sure that his wife survived.
“Peju went in on Thursday 22 April, 2021, for an elective hysterectomy surgery at Premier Specialist Medical Centre, Victoria Island. The financial requirements by Premier were met pre surgery. She had also done extensive tests and was given the all clear for surgery by Dr Akiseku the Gynecologist.
“My concerns were raised when I saw her blood pressure on the monitor immediately after surgery on Friday afternoon of 23 April, 2021. The doctors assured me that there was no cause for alarm as she was being transfused with blood, and her blood pressure would stabilize. Peju was awake and coherent. We were having a chit chat and even shared a few jokes. I therefore did not suspect that anything was wrong.
However, Ugboma said his wife told him, to his chagrin, the next day, that the doctors said her kidneys were not functioning optimally and required the attention of a Nephrologist. “I met the Nephrologist and she told me that she had administered treatment and Peju was expected to recover. I therefore did not think anything was amiss as Peju and I were communicating, although she complained of pains in her abdomen. I did not see the Gynecologist immediately after the surgery or later on for that matter, neither was there any communication from him at any time on my wife’s condition.
“On Saturday evening, Dr Renner called and told me that they would need to move Peju to the ICU ‘for better management’. He however did not tell me that she was in distress. To my shock, he told me that they would need to give her 2 to 3 pints of blood in addition to what had been given to her earlier. Premier did not have blood to give her. He suggested that we reach out to family and friends on a blood drive.
“We immediately swung into action and reached out to people far and wide for her blood match of type B+. Friends and family responded and people came from as far as Magodo to donate blood for us, and we gave Premier Specialist Medical Center 9 whole pints of blood.
“Before Peju was moved to ICU, Premier Specialist Medical Center asked me to make another payment and I instantly did a transfer of N1 million to them. Peju was given blood from donors but she complained bitterly about discomfort and pains. Dr Renner was with her and kept trying to manage her. I asked him what the next steps were, and he said it was to take her to another hospital the next day to do a CT scan. My first shock was that Premier Specialist Medical Centre did not have a CT scanner! They would therefore have had to move an ICU patient out for a CT Scan but all I wanted was for my wife to get better.
“I was with Peju until 1.30 am on Sunday morning, 25 April, 2021, when I went to sleep in her room in the hospital. By 6.30 am, I went to see her before heading home to freshen up. The Peju I saw on Sunday morning looked sharply different from the one I left 5 hours earlier. All the vitality in her face was all gone, her eyes had been taped to cover her pupils, and Dr Renner told me that she did not do well through the night and had to be placed on a respirator.
Ugboma later called a family friend, a Consultant Gynecologist in the UK, who told him that his wife was having internal bleeding and the doctors needed to open her up immediately to stop the bleeding. The friend spoke to the doctors, Asemota, Iwu and Osinowo (the medical Director of Premier Specialist Medical Centre and, without mincing words, told them that Peju was bleeding internally, and the doctors needed to open her up immediately and take care of it
“Unfortunately, and tragically, his wise counsel was not heeded as the doctors proceeded with arrangements to move Peju to Evercare Hospital, Lekki. It took Premium Specialist Medical Centre well over 3 hours before they moved Peju to Evercare where she arrived at 1.43pm,” Ugboma lamented.
To Ugboma’s consternation, on getting to Evercare, he was asked to pay another N1 million deposit. He was taken aback as he had just paid N1 million the evening before to Premier Specialist and he thought they would take care of the referral. He made the payment immediately and sent a confirmation email to the Evercare accounts department.
“My second shock was that Peju was moved to the ICU on the 5th floor, instead of doing a CT scan as I was earlier told. On getting to the ICU, the real nightmare began as I watched the Head of the ICU declare that Peju had no pulse even before she was taken off from the ambulance bed. Emergency CPR commenced.”
Though futile efforts were made to save his wife’s life, Ugboma sat and watched her take her last breath as life ebbed out of her. “Immediately after Peju was declared dead, Dr Asemota approached us and offered that they would carry out an autopsy on her. We refused because we were completely dissatisfied with the care she received from Premier and wanted an independent autopsy carried out.
“This was done at LASUTH on the 30th but not without more issues with Premier as the independent Pathologist requested for Peju’s medical notes. Premier came up with all sorts of stories about why the case notes had not been sent a whole 3 days after the request was made, and it took a physical visit from family and a shouting match before the medical notes were sent to the Pathologists for the autopsy. In light of this, I am of the opinion that the medical notes that went to the Pathologist were tampered with or altered.
“Premier Hospital did not make any contact with me or my family until the story went public when some print and electronic media carried it… Last week, we wrote letters to all 5 hospitals where Peju had medical records…George’s Memorial in Lekki, Citizens Medical Centre in Ikoyi, Medicin Specialist Women’s Hospital in Lekki, MeCure Lekki, EverCare Hospital in Lekki and Premier Specialist, VI. Every other hospital has sent in Peju’s records as we speak, except Premier. Why is Premier withholding my wife’s Records?!! To me the answer is in the Evercare’s medical report that states that Peju’s case should be referred to a coroner!!”
Agbakoba, in a statement entitled Legal Issues in Relation to the Tragic Death of Peju Ugboma, said a thorough investigation of Peju’s tragic death will be conducted, adding that doctors ought to be held accountable for medical negligence and malpractice.
“On our part, we have taken the following steps,” the statement read.