By Anne Mugisa
A Pathologist has pinned fertility doctor Edward Tamale Ssali and his team as having caused a woman’s death by inserting the anaesthesia tube into her throat instead of the trachea.
“We found bruising of the intestines. We also found half a litre of blood in the stomach and that was very abnormal. Our conclusion was that this death occurred as a result of the heart stopping, that is, cardiac arrest… the deceased had an acute inflation of the stomach lining…,” Dr. Sylvester Onzivua, a Mulago hospital forensic pathologist said.
Dr. Rafique B. Parker who was the surgeon indicated that the tube that should have supplied oxygen and anaesthesia had been wrongly put in the gullet instead of the trachea. This had the following effects; the patient was therefore not receiving adequate anaesthesia and oxygen and the anaesthesia was going into the stomach which explained the irritation of the stomach wall and the bleeding.
And this also explained the death in the sense that when the patient is poorly anaesthetized and certain parts of the body are such as … it causes the heart to slow down and subsequently top and finally the patient dies.
He said that the fertility clinic where she died corroborated that with the report that stated that Mercy’s heart slowed down before death. He said when the body was brought for postmortem; it had a cut just above the naval (umbilicus).
The trial of Dr. Ssali and a Nsambya hospital anaesthetic, Christopher Kirunda over the death of the woman, Mercy Ayiru who had gone for an operation for fibroids, started on Friday. Two witnesses who included the Doctor and Ayiru’s sister, Milburga Atcero, testified. Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate, Sylvia Nabaggala is hearing the case.
The Kenya based Dr. Parker is also wanted to stand trial with the two. He faces additional charges of operating in Uganda without a licence.
Atcero said that Dr. Ssali came out of the theatre and told her that they were trying to resuscitate Ayiru because she had developed complications. Ssali told me to expect anything to happen, Atcero testified.
She said shortly after Dr. Ssali had left, a pastor who later became Ssali’s court surety, came with a lady and started praying for her. The pastor said “madam this is a difficult moment for us now. It is only God who can handle”, she testified. When she inquired if the sister was dead, the woman said no she is about to come out.
Later, Parker and five other people including to women of Asian origin, Kirunda and the medical superintendent, Dr. Ruth Kavuma came out panicking. “Parker said we tried in vain she died,’ before he and Kirunda left. Dr. Kavuma, then explained that Ayiru died of Cardiac arrest and suggested an authopsy by a pathologist chosen by the fertility clinic.
A Mulago hospital staff member who knew the family insisted on an independent pathologist. Later that evening, the Mulago staff called the bereaved family advising them to report to the Police because Ayiru died due to mishandling. She said that she made a statement to the Police and later reported to the Medical Council
She said that the medical council heard evidence and made their report whose copy they gave her. She said the report said that all the people in the theatre at the time of Ayiru’s death were guilty of professional negligence and incompetence and that Dr. Ssali was entirely responsible.
Ssali, lawyer MacDosman Kabega tried in vain to block the report from being tendered in court by Atcero for identification. The Magistrate allowed it saying Atcero was the complainant at the Medical Council.
Hearing resumes on October 24, 2012