BABY’S PARENTS SUE GOV’T OVER JINJA HOSPITAL SAGA
By Otim Nape
What began as a trip of hope for the delivery of a healthy baby for the expectant mother, Betty Birabwa at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital ended in tears and permanent disability for the baby on 10th November 2019. David Muwereza and his wife, Betty Birabwa left their home in Buwenge-Kagoma in Jinja District for the hospital but instead of cheers, they returned with tears when Intern Doctors, who are said to have been working on their own without supervision from a senior doctor, cut off one of the baby’s hands in the course of delivering the mother by cesarean section.
Now, a law firm, Rwakafuzi and Co. Advocates, through one of the lawyers in the Chamber, Caroline Namara, has written to the Attorney General giving a notice of intention to sue. According to the notice, a copy of which Mulengera News has obtained, the lawyers from Rwakafuzi and Co. Advocates, owned by renown lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, who is known for taking on controversial cases of opposition politicians and providing legal aid to those who cannot afford the legal fees.
“We hereby notify you [Attorney General] that we intend to institute proceed against government through you for the actions of the said hospital [Jinja Regional Referral Hospital] and its employees in professional negligence; unless your good office approaches us with a view to settling the matter,” reads part of the letter. “The Medial Superintended [director] of the said hospital is equally put on notice that he shall be made a party to the intended suit.”
HOW IT ALL HAPPENED
The incident that became a hot news item across Uganda, with debating raging in newspapers, online news sites and social media for at least two weeks, began as a normal pregnancy for the mother, Betty Birabwa. Prior to the fateful day, Birabwa had faithfully made recommended antennal visits to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital.
However, in the 5th month of her pregnancy, she began experiencing complications related to heavy bleeding and despite all the medical interventions, the bleeding did not stop. The initial scan conducted by the hospital revealed that the fetus was normal, notwithstanding the abnormal bleeding.
However, on 9th November 2019, while in the 6th month of her pregnancy, Birabwa reported to the hospital in critical condition, with a swollen face and blurred vision in the morning hours.
But Birabwa was only attended to by an intern doctor Mathias Ngobi at around midday. He recommended a scan at a private clinic in Jinja town since there was no medical personnel to carry out the scam at Jinja Hospital. Birabwa did as instructed.
Upon obtaining the scan results at about 3:00pm, Ngobi recommended an immediate operation since Birabwa’s cervix was unable to carry the baby any longer and therefore her life and that of the baby were at risk. However, this operation was not carried out until 5:00am the next day by the same intern doctor Mathias Ngobi, assisted by his fellow intern, a one Nakabiito.
It’s worth noting that between 3:00pm and 5:00am, there were reports that Birabwa was kept waiting while in intense pain and suffering while the two intern doctors attended to other patients. And to make matters worse, there was no senior doctor around to supervise the intern doctors who were clearly overwhelmed by huge patient numbers.
In all this, as they tried to save Birabwa’s from pain and ultimately her life through a caesarean section delivery, the intern doctors recklessly amputated the right hand of her baby named Miracle Rania Muwereza. According to the bay’s father, David Muwereza, the young doctors lied to him that then baby had died whereas not.
All this while, the premature baby was left unattended to in the theatre for three hours instead of being taken to the incubator.
One wonders as to the intentions of this callous action. Did they want the baby to drop dead so that they could then go with the theory that it had died at birth?
As at 27th November 2019 when the notice of intention to sue was delivered the Attorney General’s chambers, the baby was still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in critical condition. According to the lawyers, as a result of all this, their clients suffered intense pain, mental anguish and psychological torture as they witnessed the improper handling of their child and its mother.