From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The family of a 12-year-old student of New Era College, in Benin City, Edo State, Glory Ekeleyede, has cried out for help, to enable it recover her body from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) mortuary for burial.
Glory reportedly died on July 15, 2022, at the UBTH, following an illness, but the management of the hospital is said to have refused to release her body over the inability of her parents to settle an outstanding bill of almost N400,000.The family is, therefore, appealing to the Edo State government, non-governmental organisations, and public spirited individuals to come to their aid.
Narrating his predicament to journalists, father of the deceased, Samson Ekeleyede, 66, from Uromi in Esan North East Local Government Area of the state, lamented that his daughter’s sickness had completely wrecked the family, putting it in debt to a lot of people in their desperation to save her life.
“I learned tailoring, but that is not what I am doing. I am doing small jobs outside to feed my children. My wife sells tomatoes and pepper in the market, and that is how we have been managing. The name of my child is Glory Ekeleyede. She was 12 years old.
She was born in 2009. She was in JSS 1 at New Era College. She would have been in JSS2 now that schools have resumed. She hardly fell sick. The only time she took ill it led to her death. What actually happened was that we thought it was a fever and took her to some place.
“They treated the fever. After two or three days, we noticed that one of the eyes got swollen and we were alarmed. We went to the nurse who treated her. Then, after two to three days, the swollen eye started to come down.
But one side of the head got swollen, too, such that if you put your finger, it would almost swallow it; it was very soft like a new born baby.
“We were afraid and we took her to the hospital where she was born – Supreme. They said they could not handle the case and they referred us to a Specialist at Ring Road. The Specialist, again, referred us to UBTH. That was on June 29, 2022.
“She was admitted and anytime I got there, they would only write drugs; do tests and X-rays. That was what they did throughout the two weeks she stayed in the hospital. I spent a lot of money on drugs; very expensive drugs. As I was bringing one, they would be writing another. You need to see the heap of receipts. Even many of the drugs are still there which she did not use.
“When she eventually died, I wanted to carry her body for burial, but they asked me to go and bring N393,910, which I did not have. All that I had before, I had spent on her and I am even owing many people. What I spent for her treatment alone was more than the bill they gave me. I don’t have money again. To eat now is even a problem for us. I cannot go back to the people I had borrowed money from.”
On the effort he had made since the death of his daughter, Ekeleyede said: “The child died on July 15 and, since then, she has been in the mortuary. I went to plead with them and they said it’s not their making. They said I have to pay. They said they used oxygen and that is why the money is high. You used oxygen; the oxygen did not work. If the child is alive now, it’s another thing. But they said till I pay, they would not release her body to us for burial. I have been going there, but they refused.
“I told one of my fathers in the church. He was very touched and he wrote a letter to the government. He said I should take it to the office of the deputy governor. That time, the governor was on leave; he was the one acting. The day I took it there was when Governor Obaseki even returned from his leave. I gave it to the PRO. That was the person my father in the church said I should give it to. I think he also mentioned it to the wife of the deputy governor. But since then, we have been waiting, but nothing has happened.”
When contacted on the matter, the Public Relations Officer of UBTH, Uwaila Joshua, said, “There’s a presumption that when you receive care, you are to pay for it.”
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