Since the death of Miss Oluchi Anekwe, a third-year Accounting student at the University of Lagos, the university’s Medical Centre has remained the subject of widespread criticism and ridicule.
Both the students of the university and members of the Anekwe family have insisted that Oluchi who was rushed to the Medical Centre in a taxi was alive at the time she arrived the hospital, and would have in fact survived had the medical officials attended to her promptly.
Last week, a student who identified herself as Damilola told Saturday Tribune that medical officials at the Centre had done nothing to save Anekwe’s life.
�She could have been saved; they were asking us for her ID card at the Medical Centre. How could they be asking for her ID card when they saw it was an emergency? They were delaying us, asking us to go and get her ID card. Five minutes is enough to save a life; if she was not a UNILAG student, would we all have gathered there? And even if she was not a UNILAG student, is it not human life we are talking about?”
When Saturday Tribune visited the Medical Centre on Monday, the doctor on duty on the night of the incident was not available. However, the Acting Chief Medical Director, Dr O. O. Coker recounted their own version of the story.
�As soon as I entered the OPD, the reception, I perceived the smell of something burning,” said Dr Coker. �You could just imagine what had happened. I entered and met the doctor and the nurse. The girl was on the floor. I checked her and I noticed that she did not have any pulse. I realised that her feet and her perennial region had burnt. Of course, the doctor on duty had already certified her dead. The next thing was to call the security personnel and the Dean of Students’ Affairs, who came in soon after and saw the girl and took the history of what had happened. We recommended that they take her to LUTH, because we do not have a mortuary here…The point to note is that at the point she was brought here she was already dead.
�We operate a scheme for students under NHIS. What happens is that students pay for their medicals with the school fees. Once a student pays school fees he or she can receive treatment from the medical centre. Once it is emergency, we treat them without opening a card, unless they have a card here. They are supposed to register here.”
Coker also described as untrue reports that �valuable time” was wasted before attempts were made to save Anekwe’s life. She said questions about her identity were asked only when they had ascertained she was dead.
�On that day she was brought here by her colleagues, she was taken straight to the emergency room. It wasn’t until I got there that we found out her name. The doctor and nurse had treated her before we began to ask for her name and particulars. It was then we started asking her friends. We did not know who she was before she was admitted into the emergency ward. She had already been certified dead. It was when I came in I began to ask for her particulars. It was when we got her details. It was said in the papers that we were asking for her ID card. The girl was brought in by a crowd of students! I do not know where we went wrong.”
If she was dead before she was brought to the Medical Centre, why would the students who were there claim she was alive?
�There was no way they could know for sure that the girl was dead,” Coker said. �They are not medical personnel. We know what to look for to certify her dead. From what I heard, she was lying on the place of the incident for some time. We did not know for how long she had lain there. She was not brought in immediately the event happened. When she was brought here, the doctor on duty said they started CPR on her, even after they had noticed she wasn’t breathing. They did that for seven minutes before they certified her dead.”
Other medical officials who spoke with Saturday Tribune said they were displeased by the manner in which the story was presented in the media.
An official who did not wish to be named said there was �no way” Anekwe could have survived that kind of accident.
�There is no way a high-tension cable of that nature could have spared her life,” the official said.
However, Mr Sade Oba, an electrical engineer and Managing Director of Fosad and Sons Electrical Engineering, Surulere, Lagos, told Saturday Tribune on Wednesday that it was a �fifty-fifty chance”.
�It depends on the voltage�If the cable is high-voltage, then it would have been impossible for her to survive it. It also depends on what she is putting on � I mean, her footwear. And then it depends on the spot of the accident � is the area wet, or dry? These are the things to consider. So, it is a fifty-fifty chance.”
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