Like every expectant mother who is due, Lilongwe-based woman, Idesi Chinyama rushed to Bwaila Hospital formerly known as Bottom Hospital, while in labour, expecting to go back home with another bundle of joy.
Little did she know that this bitter-sweet visit would turn into a nightmare.
â€œI arrived at the hospital [in Malawiâ€™s capital, Lilongwe] at around 10 pm on September 18, and I was received by a doctor and nurse. Due to complications when the labour started, doctors said there was need for a prompt Caesarean. The foetus was said to be bigger than the birth canal.
â€œBecause labour pains were just too much, I asked them to speed up the process, but they asked me to wait for a while. I pleaded with the doctors several times, but the doctors did not consider my request,â€ said Chinyama, who has four daughters.
She said she was later told that the doctor who was said to be experienced in Caesarean left the hospital for her home a few hours after she arrived at the hospital. She was told to wait for another equally experienced doctor.
Chinyama, who is based at Chinsapo, said doctors and nurses at the hospital also turned down her request to apply forced labour method to enable her to deliver in the absence of personnel experienced in Caesarean.
â€œBy then, my condition was getting worse. At around 4 am, I started feeling pneumonic and the unborn baby started having problems with breathing. I was still told to wait and at around 5 am, I could feel my unborn fighting for its life.
â€œAt around 7 am, the baby stopped breathing and I knew that my baby was dead. I spent about 10 and a half hours feeling serious pains at the hospital while nurses and doctors were just looking at me,â€ said Chinyama, who wore a sombre face during the interview.
She said she was taken to the operating theatre at around 8 am, the following day.
â€œWhile on the operating table, doctors found that the unborn baby had burst the uterus and the umbilical cord was cut. They completely removed the uterus and one of my ovaries and took me to the ward where I was given three drips of blood,â€ said Chinyama.
She said she spent about 10 days in the hospital, claiming she was later forcedly discharged because doctors disagreed on her situation. They refused to give her a medical report, she claimed.
â€œThe doctors refused to give me a medical report for my admission to the hospital and told me that I could go anywhere else to complain about the treatment I got. They discharged me while I had several stitches on my body, and before I healed,â€ said Chinyama.
She wrote her grievances on October 23 2012 and addressed it to secretary for Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo.
In a letter dated October 30 from the director of clinical services in the Ministry of Health Dr. George Chit hope Male, the ministry ordered the registrar of Medical Council of Malawi (MCP) to urgently handle Chinyamaâ€™s complaint and take necessary disciplinary action.
â€œI would, therefore, like to request your office to urgently investigate the matter and take appropriate action so that such incidents should not have a place in our hospitals,â€ wrote Mwale.
In an interview on Thursday, MCMâ€™s registrar Abels Kaonga, said the council is investigating the case and three other claims of negligence involving doctors, nurses and midwives at the same hospital. They are accused of neglecting pregnant mothers, thereby causing death of unborn babies.
â€I constituted a team of inspectors to investigate the cases. There are about four cases involving that hospital which happened within a spread of two months. We are expecting to get a report from the inspectors within next week.
â€œAfter that, we will involve the disciplinary committee which will sanction the members and deliver its verdict on them. We have also involved the Nurses Council to check the issues on their cadre at the hospital,â€ said Kaonga.
He said possible punishments on the four cases range from warnings, suspension from practice and de-registration.
Nation on Sunday did not find Lilongwe district health officer (DHO) Dr. Mwawi Mwale, who administers Bwaila Hospital, at his office. He did not answer his phones.
The DHOâ€™s spokesperson Alvin Chidothi said Bwaila Hospital management is aware of the complaints lodged with the council, but denied allegations of negligence at the facility, saying the doctors at the hospital did their best to save Chinyamaâ€™s life after her uterus has raptured.
â€œWe have told the council what happened. We normally advise pregnant women to come to the hospital in time. The woman came to the hospital late and found the theatre full.
â€œDoctors did what they could do to save her life. Otherwise, she would have also died because the uterus did rapture before going to the theatre. The woman should be grateful because it is a miracle that she is still alive,â€ said Chidothi.
He, however, said he needed to consult further before commenting on claims of negligence, wrong prescription and treatment at the hospital.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said the ministryâ€™s role is to enforce standards in hospitals, saying government expects doctors and nurses to treat all cases according to their levels of urgency.
â€œWe have followed up on the case and found that the doctors did not remove any of the ovaries from the woman. Itâ€™s only the uterus which was removed because she had a ruptured uterus. The doctors also told the woman why they had to remove the uterus. They did so to save her life,â€ said Chimbali.