She underwent a surgical operation 24 years ago to save her life. Today, Romona Barak-Oada is still suffering
from a dreadful mistake believed to have been made back then.
The woman, now 56 years old, said, yesterday, that it was after the operation conducted at the Georgetown Public Hospital that a pair of surgical scissors was left in a section of her abdomen. And according to her she is prepared to do whatever it takes to make the hospital pay for its mistake.
This situation made international news about a decade ago and shocked the medical community.
“I don’t want an exorbitant amount but I need to be compensated…I’ve told them to use their conscience,” said Barak-Oada. She considered compensation of no less than $10 million although according to her “it’s deserving of more than $10 million. I need my compensation; I want closure to this matter.”
The woman said that attempts to reach Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran, and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Khan, were all futile. She however noted that a Government official with whom she has spoken of the issue has promised to look into the matter.
But according to Mr. Khan, yesterday, the hospital has on several occasions sought to have the instrument removed from the woman’s abdomen to no avail. She has continuously refused to have a corrective operation done, disclosed Mr Khan.
Recalling the day it all began, Barak-Oada in an interview yesterday revealed that she was home alone at her then New Market Street, Georgetown premises when it was invaded by some bandits. She was robbed of a quantity of money and physically attacked.
The woman, who was 32 years old at the time, suffered several stab wounds, one of which was inflicted close to the region of her heart. Her liver was damaged, too. Her condition warranted the surgical operation.
There are reports that the traumatic event also left the woman somewhat mentally unstable.
Nevertheless, the successful operation at the public hospital was instrumental in saving her life.
Not only was she unaware of the scissors in her abdomen after the surgery but from all indications the medical practitioners, including the African surgeon, who spearheaded the operation, Dr. Innocent Muchenagumbo, hadn’t a clue.
She remained hospitalised for about two months but recounted that even after recuperating she was plagued with intermittent stabbing pains in her abdomen. No one at the medical facility was able to tell her what was the source of the pain, a state of affairs, she said, that forced her to expend a lot of money seeking medical help at several private health facilities.
She remembers requesting that x-rays be done but none was done.
It was not until she decided to seek the services of Dr. Carl Max Hanoman, her last resort, some 10 years after the surgery that the scissors was discovered. Dr Hanoman recommended an x-ray and was able to ascertain that a pair of surgical scissors was lodged in the left side of the woman’s stomach.
Barak-Oada had made known the discovery to doctors at the public hospital but informed that she was reluctant to have the situation corrected there. She has ever since been going about her daily life with the foreign object contained in her stomach but continues to experience “excruciating” pains intermittently.
The woman is convinced, too, that the presence of the instrument had resulted in her suffering at least two miscarriages. “I have lost confidence in the doctors; I am scared,” said the woman of the medical practitioners of the GPHC.
X-rays of the woman’s abdomen done a few days ago revealed that the scissors has moved slightly from where it was originally located. As he examined the most recent x-rays of the woman’s abdomen yesterday at his Brickdam, Georgetown, clinic, Dr. Hanoman informed that from a medical perspective it would be wise to have it removed as soon as possible.
“If you have an instrument in there (your stomach) and fall on your tummy it can hit an organ and cause damage…She must have been very careful over the years,” said Dr Hanoman.
He noted that while the scissors has moved to a position less threatening, failure to remove it still remains a risk to the woman’s wellbeing.
Dr. Hanoman is convinced that there are some well qualified surgeons currently employed at the GPHC who can remove the scissors. But although he has expressed the need for this to be done urgently, Dr. Hanonman has noted that the ultimate decision can only be made by Barak-Oada.
The woman who claims to have a home at Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, said that she has for the past three months been staying at the East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, Night Shelter.
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