Mother of a UNILAG student, Comfort Omolaye, who accused the management of the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, of being responsible for the death of her 25-year-old son, Samuel Omolaye, speaks to FATTEH HAMID about the agony of witnessing her son’s death
ow are you coping after the death of your son?
What do I do? I miss him. Nigerians should pray for me that God should help me; I also have people advising me that I should not allow the incident to break me down in order to have the capacity to nurture his younger ones.
While the provision of a bed was being sorted out, as an emergency response, did the hospital do anything to stabilise him?
No, they didn’t. We got there some minutes before 4pm and when we got there, they said there was no bed space and that we should take him to another hospital. But a child that was weak and tired, I was scared to start taking him to another hospital; I started begging them with tears that he should be attended to. Since we have their card, I decided to stay back and beg them and all that time, nothing was given to him.
So, he was a patient at FMC before?
Yes, he became their patient in January 2022, and at the time, he wasn’t admitted. They told us that the drugs that were prescribed for him by the former hospital were good for him to continue using and that nothing was wrong with him. On the day he began to complain of being weak, I decided to take him to the Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta because I believed that as a federal hospital, they should be able to handle emergencies better than other hospitals.
Before his death, was any illness recently treated?
Yes, he had typhoid for which he was admitted for three days and was discharged after he was confirmed okay.
What really happened at FMC that day?
After he was given a bed, which came after over 45 minutes, we were attended to, and they passed drip to his body, I was asked to go and make certain payments which I went to do immediately. When I came back, I met the doctor in charge and he told me that he had shortage of blood and that he would be given blood to become stabilised. I was relieved to hear this. However, after some hours, I realised that he was still taking the drip alone and not blood. I could only see a nurse and I told her that the drip was done which she switched immediately.
I informed her that he was complaining of being weak, and asked if he won’t be given the blood as the doctor had earlier mentioned, when she checked his details on the system. She (nurse) told me that the doctor didn’t record that he needed blood. We began to look for the doctor and we didn’t see him again. He was gone. The nurse directed me to another doctor and I went to explain our predicament to him that my son was on emergency. He checked him and took a sample of his blood; this was past 8pm at night.
After that was done, I had to go and pay money. It was after I came back and they confirmed on their system that I had made payment before they took the blood sample to the laboratory. The result came back past 11 pm. I asked them how I was going to buy the blood and they said they do not sell blood and that I needed a family member to donate blood for him. I informed them that his father was far away in Adamawa State and pleaded that they should help with other alternatives. They said there was nothing they could do. I asked for where the blood bank was and they said it was almost midnight and the blood bank would have closed. I started rallying around greeting the security men and asking how I could get someone to donate blood for my child. I later got to know that there was someone who donates but I would have to pay him.
Was he able to donate for him?
We could not find him until after midnight and when he followed me to the laboratory, when we got there; he was informed that they cannot take blood from him until the following morning. When he came out, he said I should go and beg them or rather that he has appealed to them that they borrow me a pint of blood for my son which would sustain him till morning when they would get the remaining three pints of blood.
They said they could not do that because the blood available was meant for someone who was going to have a surgery in the morning. I started crying and after a lot of disturbance, they told me to go and pay which I did. I got the receipt later and went to give it to the other department, but they said that my payment had not reflected. I showed them the receipt and they asked me to tell them at the ward to send someone for the blood. When I got to the ward, it was only the nurse that I saw earlier that was available; no other nurse or doctor was spotted. All of them had gone to sleep.
When you realised he didn’t record that he needed blood, how did you feel?
I felt very bad because I was wondering how he could miss such an important detail.
This was already late, how was he now later attended to?
Later on, the person who wanted to donate earlier also came in and since he was a staff there too, he was sent to collect the blood. I followed him and when we got to the laboratory again, they gave him the blood but asked me to wait. After waiting for a long time, I went to meet them only for them to tell me that they were delaying me because my payment had not been received despite showing them the receipt.
I was very angry and left there for the ward only for me to get there and saw that the blood transfusion had not started. I asked them for the reason and they told me that he would not be given cold blood and that it needed to get warm. It was in the process of warming the blood that Samuel gave up at 2am.
What happened after his demise?
I started wailing and crying, by this time, all the doctors and nurses who had disappeared from the ward started resurfacing and they started pressing his chest and trying to resuscitate him but it was late. These were people who were not available when he was going through pains but suddenly, they all wanted to resuscitate him. I started shouting that I brought him in alive and needed to take him back alive. They did all they could but it was late. They used the curtains to surround his bed after confirming that he was dead. That was how I lost my first son.
Do you intend to sue the medical centre for what happened?
Yes, we’re going to sue them for what happened.
How do you intend to pursue this?
We have some lawyers who had already risen to the case and soon enough, they’ll hear from us.
What will be your demand from the court?
Our demands will be communicated soon enough.
How did your family receive the news of his death?
Every member of the family is in pain. He’s greatly missed. My colleagues at work, his friends, neighbours; they were all shocked by the news. He was a great child to everyone and they miss him.
How much do you miss him?
Greatly, he was my first son, my precious fruit. He’s meant to be 25 by March but this bad healthcare system in the country has killed him. He was a child that I had been taking care of for over two decades; he was very useful to me at home. Almost everything at home was his initiative and idea.
If you could request something from the Federal Government, what would that be?
They can’t pay for the life of my child. If they give me N100m, it is not enough for the life of my child.
Do you have any advice for the hospital?
That place isn’t a hospital. They don’t have human feeling or value live. I cannot direct anyone to that hospital with my personal experience.
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