The Deputy Provost of the Nigerian Insitute of Journalism (NIJ) Dr Dele Omojuyigbe, has narrated how he lost his wife, Omolara while struggling to get a space for her in five hospitals in Lagos state.
Omolara Omojuygbe, who won several awards during her active service, retired in September 2020 as the principal of Ijeododo Grammar school, Lagos.
The Deputy Provost, who took to social media to appreciate those who had supported his family during the burial, explained the bitter experience.
He said, “We had traversed five Lagos hospitals in seven anxious hours. Sadly, we got the same cold, lethal refrain: “THERE IS NO SPACE”. Her health had reached a frightful state already, I admit. But it wasn’t irredeemable, perhaps.
“My son had called me about 5 am that the doctor would like to speak with me. My heart had skipped. “Madam is not responding to treatment again”, the doctor had said. Jeez! But you assured me yesterday that the situation was under control! “Yes! Her system changed suddenly”, he riposted.
“There is an issue with the area. And the pancreas has packed up”, the doctor further explained.
“In no time, I arrived in the hospital with the NIJ driver. I met my wife on oxygen. I was terrified. She was croaking. The entire room vibrated. Even the ante-room shook. It was terrific. I stared at her for five minutes and bowed in grief. I mourned.
“The nurses appealed to me to hold myself together for the sake of my children waiting at the reception. The children weren’t aware of the development. I tidied up my face and went to see the doctor.
“‘Doctor, talk to me, I said. He replied quietly that he would refer my wife to the Emergency Unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja. “There is an Intensive Care Unit there. She needs it”, he said. ‘Any hope?’ He was hesitant. ‘Don’t worry, doctor; talk to me, I have mourned already’, I told him. “Sir, the chance is about 20/80”. What! I looked into space, struggled with myself for a few seconds, and vowed, ‘even if it remains one percent chance, I will fight with it’.
“Immediately, I sent my daughter home and asked her brother to stay with me. We called a driver accustomed to emergency driving, and we moved… from the private hospital in the Igando area to LASUTH Ikeja. We were on a flight. We reached LASUTH but LASUTH failed. THERE IS NO SPACE, I was told. What do I do? Try FMC (Federal Medical Centre) Ebute Metta, the doctor said. He withheld the referral note I brought and gave me a fresh one.
“I checked my wife in the Sienna car carrying us; she was breathing silently. I was afraid. I told the driver that we were moving again. Where sir? FMC. We got to FMC after much traffic and stress, being a Friday. The same lamentation: THERE IS NO SPACE. I cajoled and pleaded. But truly, they had no space. I called one of the doctors aside and sought his advice. “Try Military Hospital, Yaba; they usually have space”. We moved again, agonizingly. I asked the driver to keep moving wherever I told him; we would renegotiate his fare. We got to Military Hospital. “They shouldn’t have referred you here. They should know that we don’t have ICU”, the doctor who attended to me said. ‘What next’? “Go to LUTH, Idi-Araba”.
“Again, we moved. At that point, my son couldn’t control himself anymore. His eyes had become red and swollen with tears. I was left with small hope and little faith. We got to LUTH. I was glad to notice that two female doctors would attend to her. Not quite! They got to her in the car, actually, and examined her. They wrote a small report which wasn’t frightening. My son and I read it, looked at each other, and had relief. But the doctors averred, THERE IS NO SPACE. “I don’t know how heavy your pocket is. If you have the money, then try the Spill Over in the next building. It is run by a private organization. I will attend to her there if you are lucky to find a space”, one of the doctors said.
“My pocket had become lean then but I ran there still. THERE IS NO SPACE, the lady in charge told me. I ran back to the doctor and begged her to attend to my wife in the car. “It is contrary to medical ethics”, she replied. The driver saw my plight and had pity. He suggested that we move to a private hospital on the LASU-Iba expressway if I wouldn’t mind the cost. He called a doctor there who, in turn, called the medical director.
“We snapped the referral note and sent it to the medical director on request through WhatsApp. He studied the note and summoned us immediately. So, we moved from LUTH at breakneck speed. Reaching Ile-Zik, Ikeja, my wife stopped breathing. She died. I checked the time; it was 5.01 pm… from 9.30 am. That is my country; my wife’s country, NIGERIA. I asked the driver to take us straight to Igando General Hospital for verification since we were going in that direction already. There, she was confirmed, BID (Brought-in Dead). My wife!
“She had a good life. She was caring and loving and was on top of her profession. A Grade Level 17 officer and a school principal in Lagos, she retired statutorily in September 2020. She got a punctuality award in three different schools where she taught and was among the few principals invited for recognition at Alausa, on two occasions, for good performance (Just for the mention – nothing was added). She made me proud.
“If facilities were adequate in those hospitals, maybe she would still be alive! Maybe many Nigerians who had died would be alive! For now, THERE IS NO SPACE in public hospitals.”