The story of a young woman who was rejected during labour in Akwa Ibom State has again brought to the fore the high maternal and infant deaths in the country. Rebecca Ejiforma chronicles her experience and how she and her newborn were saved by a good Samaritan
Kendra Effionk-Donald is one of the few lucky women who has experienced the pain of hospital negligence and still come out alive with her baby hale and hearty. Share luck and determination to stay alive were the only reasons she could live to tell her story.
The 20 years old indigene of Itu in Akwa Ibom State had attended ante-natal at the health centre in Ikot Idaha without issues for months until about 8am on April 28th,the day she was billed to deliver.
“Ante-natal was very easy for me; I had no issues at the health centre prior to when labour started. My problem began when I started having discharge. I called my mum and told her, because I was still living with my parents while my husband was working in Lagos,” Kendra said, while narrating her gory experience with THISDAY.
On hearing it was about time for Kendra to deliver, her mother, Mrs. Fabian-Bassey, rushed her to the midwife close to their home, who specialises in delivering babies. “It was a Saturday and the health centre doesn’t open except week days, that was why my mother took me there,” she said.
There, the midwife confirmed it was almost time, hence she instructed Kendra to do some exercise. “After which she prepared me for delivery. That was when she discovered my baby was coming out with legs, instead of head. My mum and everyone became concerned. And the midwife ordered that I be taken to the hospital, since the situation was beyond her expertise,” Kendra explained.
Unfortunately, several actions and inactions of the nurses of the private hospital, Abasi Ekene Health Centre – left the entire family devastated. “Together with the midwife, my parents and my aunt followed me to the hospital. I was in pain because the baby was really torturing me. But the nurses were acting slowly. They said my parents must register me first, buy blood and hand gloves before they could attend to me.”
Speaking with THISDAY at her residence in FESTAC, Kendra said that as traumatising and excruciating as it was under labour, the nurses said they would not touch her if her parents didn’t pay for the listed items. “So, my father paid N500 for card, N500 for the gloves and N1000 for blood.”
Sadly, Kendra’s parents were amazed at the attitude of the nurses, who refused to look at the state of their young pregnant daughter. ‘Why are you taking so long to spell her name?’ her father questioned angrily. “They couldn’t spell my name. When my father insisted on spelling it, they declined. So, he screamed again if they wanted me to die. They still didn’t mind him.
“At this time, they wrapped up the registration, then rushed me to the theatre. The nurse checked me and confirmed that my baby was coming with legs. That was when she told us the doctor was not on seat.”
Kendra said the doctor-in-charge, who was the founder of Abasi Ekene Health Centre, also works for a public health facility in Ikot. “The nurse explained the doctor’s whereabouts and quickly called him on phone. He then instructed her to check if I could have normal delivery. She did but told him my baby was coming with legs. So, the doctor said he was sorry but he was attending a meeting in the public facility.”
Because there were only nurses present in the hospital, Kendra said the doctor instructed the nurse to transfer her to the teaching hospital, where doctors were present. “She took me out of the theatre and told my family to take me to the teaching hospital.
“My mum couldn’t hold back her tears anymore. While I was crying and perspiring heavily, she was crying too. But I told them I would not go to any other hospital but to my church because my pastor takes care of pregnant women too.”
It was all getting too much for the 20 years old first-time mother, who got married to Mr. Effionk-Donald from same state last February. Hence, she told her father to take her to church as she couldn’t cope anymore with the pain. “My dad refused. Quickly, they pet me into his car and we drove off. Immediately we left the health centre, I felt something coming out strongly from me. I screamed and told my mum that my intestine was coming out. That made my dad stop driving and parked on the road. It was 6p.m. already. And I was weak and in great pain.”
Narrating further, Kendra said her mum jumped down from the car and began to scream for help. “Passers-by and residents of the streets rushed to our aid; even the nurses from the hospital dashed out but stood afar to watch. That was when a good Samaritan, who happened to also be a nurse, was passing by. My mum called out for her and pleaded she save my life and that of the baby.”
Kendra, who wondered why some nurses no longer follow the hippocratic oath they took, explained that when the good Samaritan tried to come to her aid, the nurses from Abasi Ekene Health Centre rushed to her warning that their doctor had already referred her (Kendra) to the teaching hospital.
At this time, Kendra was sapped of strength. She explained that the “good nurse, Esther didn’t heed to her colleagues. Rather she got angry and rushed to help me,” she noted.
Fortune smiled on Kendra and her family as nurse Esther made successful efforts at delivering the baby. “She asked for a bowl of water, clothes and others things. She then urged me to push. Within few seconds, my baby’s legs came out but stopped around the chest region.”
Kendra said at this point, she lost strength and couldn’t push any further. “I lost strength, but I could still hear everyone around me talking. “Consequently, the nurse began to search for my baby’s hands. She had to pull the baby out because she was already crying inside me. My mum was panicking. That was when I became worried. The nurse asked my mum to give her a blade but she refused. She didn’t want anyone to tear my body.”
Sadly, after some minutes, Kendra’s baby girl stopped crying from the inside. Hence, it became necessary to pull her out forcefully to save her life and that of the baby. “My baby girl was brought out still. She neither moved nor cried. I started crying really bad. My mum’s tears knew no bounds. The nurse screamed and ordered everyone to pray. She said her covenant with God was that no baby will die in her hands in this profession.
“Minutes have passed and the baby was not waking up. The nurse beat my baby on the back very hard. But nothing. She poured the baby a bowl of water and beat her, yet nothing. I was crying and begging God to help me. More passers-by came to us. The nurse asked for a pumper, which a woman swiftly brought one from God knows where. She inserted it into the baby’s nostril and pumped. When the baby was not responding, she gave her cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). And we all watched for some seconds.And there, the baby sneezed. Everyone screamed so loud. There was shouting and jumping. And my baby began to cry. The nurse said it was after over 20 minutes that my baby sneezed.”
Now living in Lagos with her husband, Kendra expressed boundless gratitude to the people of Ikot and passers-by for their love and humanity towards her. “That nurse was just a good Samaritan. I still don’t know how to thank her. But when I visit my home in December, I shall show my appreciation to her. And God bless all the people who helped me: my mum, dad, aunt, the midwife and people of Ikot,” Kendra explained.
Indeed, not every woman has been as fortunate as Kendra in such rare situation. At least about 145 women die daily in Nigeria due to childbearing. The total rate of maternal and newborn mortality is a contribution of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Upon graduation from medical and nursing school, hippocratic oats are sworn and they are expected to be followed to the letter for the purpose of saving lives. The oat nurses swore to reads: “I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavour to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”
Indeed, these powerful words mean a lot and can do great wonders for humanity if followed effectively. While several professionals and associations have accused attitudes of health workers as one of the reasons, others have claimed prayer houses and religious beliefs have contributed to the high maternal mortality the country presently has.
Today, however, there is urgent need to remind nurses, doctors and other health of their ath and consequences of breaking it. And if the state government looked into the issue of its maternal mortality now, it could save the lives of more women both in Akwa Ibom and Nigeria in general.
Just recently, the former Director General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Professor Innocent Ujah, told THISDAY that Akwa Ibom and Cross River states have very high maternal mortality rate in the country, fingering roles played by religious houses, attitude of health workers as major causal factors for the high mortality rate.
He noted that childbearing was supposed to be a thing of joy and no woman should die when bringing forth a life.
While the country, collectively, is trying to reduce this appalling figure of women being buried, there is need for proper monitoring of doctors and other health workers in achieving the target.