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How Lagos Hospital Injected Patient With Formalin During Surgery, Crippling Her (PHOTOS)


May 30, 2017 was supposed to be the start of a new beginning in her marriage. Weeks earlier Christina Ohunyan, 40, had been diagnosed of myomectomy, commonly known as fibroid.

Doctors had told her that the tumour growing in her uterus was the reason she had not been pregnant four years after she got married to John.

As she walked into the operating theatre of the Orile-Agege General Hospital, in Lagos that Tuesday afternoon, she was also trying to balance a mixture of emotions.

Though she was happy that she would finally be rid of a malignant growth that had stood between her and the joy of motherhood, like many patients going under the knife, she was scared that something may go wrong. A devout Christian, Mrs Ohunyan said a quiet prayer that everything should go as planned.

That prayer was not answered.

After asking routine questions about her medical history, a doctor at the hospital handed her a consent form to sign.

Minutes later she was lying on a bed in an operating theatre with about six medical operatives arranging surgical knives and arranging other equipment in preparation for the surgery. Moments later, a lady, who was later confirmed to be an anaesthetist approached her with an injection and inserted it around her lumbar spine.

Immediately the fluid in the injection was pumped into her she started feeling a burning sensation around her lower limbs. The sensation was unbearable, and she was yelling so loud that the anaesthetist had to quickly discontinue the procedure.

“The injection they gave me, after they administered it, I started feeling a peppery sensation and I was shouting. They asked what was the problem? I said I could no longer feel my legs. The peppery sensation was so much, that they said they could no longer continue with the surgery,” she said in her near-whisper voice.

By the time she was wheeled back to the ward, she discovered she could no longer feel her lower limbs. Doctors encouraged her to lay still hoping that after some hours the effect of the injection would wear out.

She was also told that the surgery had been rescheduled for two weeks later but when she woke the next day she discovered she had become paralysed from the waist down. The surgery to remove the myectomy was never done.

She later discovered that she had urinary or faecal incontinence – the inability to voluntarily control urination and defecation. She now permanently wears adult diapers.

Mrs Ohunyan said since the incident happened, several top officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, including the commissioner, Jide Idris, have visited her but nobody has told her or her husband what really happened in the operating theatre that afternoon and how she became paralysed.

“They were just telling me there is no problem that everything would be all right,” the woman told PREMIUM TIMES.

Despite assurances from the hospital and officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health, her condition has only minimally improved – more than 15 months after the botched surgery, Mrs Ohunyan is still mostly confined to her narrow bed in a ward with 10 other patients at the hospital.


After months of physiotherapy at the Lagos State University (LASUTH) she has managed to regain partial use of her lower limbs – she can now sit and can move around with the help of elbow crutches.

“Injected With Formalin”
While the hospital and state government continue to keep the couple in the dark about what happened on May 30, 2017, and how she immediately became paralysed after being injected, PREMIUM TIMES has been reliably informed by sources knowledgeable of the incident that Mr Ohunyan may have been injected with a fake anaesthesia, which ruined her pelvic floor.

Pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that supports the pelvic organs. The Continence Foundation of Australia says the pelvic organs are the bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and uterus in women.

“Weakened pelvic floor muscles mean the internal organs are not fully supported and you may have difficulty controlling the release of urine, faeces or flatus (wind),” the CFA explained.

One of our sources, a former medical practitioner at a Lagos State-owned hospital, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised by the government, said after the botched surgery, the state Ministry of Health carried out an internal investigation and the outcome of the enquiry revealed that the medical director of the hospital at the time, Aduke Odutayo, was reportedly purchasing medication for the hospital through unregulated drug vendors.

“The medical director, Dr. Odutayo usually skips procurement process to go buy drugs herself from Idumota. It turns out that her purchases have ruined a patient,” the source said.

The source said a toxicology test was conducted on the anaesthesia administered on Mrs Ohunyan and when the result came out it revealed that instead of Lidocaine, which was the prescribed anaesthesia, the substance in the injection vials was formalin.

Formalin is a liquid solution of formaldehyde, a gas used in pathology for embalming dead bodies. A mixture of the formalin with methanol and other substances is used to temporarily preserve a dead body.

A 2016 study by Tasnim Masmoudi et al of the Department of Legal Medicine, and the Department of Hospital Hygiene of University Hospital Centre Farhat Hached, Sousse, Tunisia, published in the Pan African Medical Journal said the injection of formalin can result in cell lysis and tissue necrosis.

The medical dictionary defines cell lysis as the “destruction or decomposition, as of a cell or other substance, under influence of a specific agent”.

“In view of its widespread use, exposure to formaldehyde is significant for human health because of its acute and chronic toxicity,” the study noted.

“Cover Up”
The source said that after the investigation, officials of the hospital found culpable were not properly punished for their role in the botched surgery, instead, the Health Service Commission and the Ministry of Health demoted some, others were hurriedly transferred from the hospital.

The source alleged that the first decision taken by the hospital and the State Ministry of Health was not to disclose what actually happened to Mrs Ohunyan and her husband.

“The cover up has been massive. Pages from her records are missing,” the source said.

“Dr Odutayo has been transferred to Randle (Randle General Hospital Surulere), and the doctors who administered the drug as well and most of the nurses who attended to her during the surgery have been transferred.”

Many medical practitioners working at state-own hospitals were shocked by the incident and how the state government has handled it so far but have been talking about it in hushed tones.

Fifteen months after the botched surgery, the Ohunyans told PREMIUM TIMES the hospital’s management and the Lagos State Ministry of Health have refused to tell them what happened to Christiana on the day of the surgery, despite several direct requests and multiple letters from their lawyer for details.

“We have no information about the stage she is and what needed to be done. If I don’t go to meet the medical director to ask what is going on, nobody tells me anything. Even when I go, he just tells me, ‘we are working on it. You can see she is going to physio(therapy).’ But what is the next step? What is being done? Nobody tells you anything,” said Mr Ohunyan.

“We actually requested for a report, but the hospital has not given us a report. All we just know is that she has issues with her limbs and the pelvic floor. But we still do not know what happened. I learnt that they took the sample of the injection for test but the result of the test, we don’t even know,” he added.

Shoddy Treatment
Mrs Ohunyan also suggested that the entire process of the surgery was handled unprofessionally. She said despite informing her that surgery would be conducted several days before, the doctors did not even take a decision on what kind of anaesthesia would be administered on her until she entered the operating theatre.

She said she was not told of risk of spinal anaesthesia or told of alternative options available before the anaesthesia was administered.


Alleged Culprit
When reached for comments, Mrs Odutayo originally said she could not remember the incident.

“I left the hospital two years ago, I can’t remember her,” she said in a telephone interview.

She requested for the name of Mrs Ohunyan to be spelled. Afterwards, she then declined to speak.

“I’m a civil servant. I cannot talk to the media. Go and talk to the hospital’s management or the Ministry of Health,” she said.

Similarly, Funmilayo Ige, the anaesthetist who reportedly injected Mr Ohunyan as well as the head of the pharmacy, Mrs Farinloye, declined to comment when contacted saying as civil servants “they were not allowed to speak to the press”.

 

Source: Premium Times

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