The healthy leg of a 48-year-old woman was mistakenly amputated at the Negombo General Hospital and the authorities are trying to cover up what is clearly an act of criminal negligence, the Asian Human Rights Commission charged yesterday.
In a statement the AHRC said no inquiry had still been conducted and no statement made to the police. It urged the government to order an immediate probe.
It said the woman Sithy Nazeera was the only breadwinner of her family as her husband was sick. She supported her children by selling eatables. But now she worries that she might be a burden for her family.
While calling on the government to take criminal action against those responsible, the AHRC has also urged that immediate assistance be given to the family.
It said the victim`s healthy limb was amputated due to a mistaken identity.
The story as told by Sithy Nazeera from her hospital bed is as follows:
`I had a wound in the sole of my foot and went to see a doctor to get treatment. He gave a letter saying to go to the hospital and get the wound treated. Even then I told the doctor I was afraid. Then the doctor said, `don`t be afraid, this is only for cleaning the wound.` After that they would put medicine and cure it.
?The first time I went to the Negombo General Hospital was on February 27. On that day my wound was cleaned and some medicine applied. Then I went again on March 1 and was taken to the operating theatre.
?There, I was told they would inject something in my spine and after the injection they would clean the wound and send me off.
?After about half an hour those people were chatting and laughing. Later somebody came and gave me the injection.
?Though my leg was numb there was nothing wrong with my ears. Somebody taped on my leg and I heard someone say there was one to clean the wound and another to be amputated. By then they had amputated my leg. My eyes were bandaged and I just pulled it off. I thought that my leg had been cut off and I shouted saying that I came to get my wound cleaned and the person waiting for the amputation was waiting outside. I am told now that once they finished the work in the theatre they have to get me to sign. That is why they told me like that.
?Hearing my shouts a doctor in the ward came running. He told me not to shout. He told me, you don`t know anything. He said he was inside the theatre. After that, he did not send me back to the ward. He kept me later than 6:30 p.m. By then the visitors had to leave. That was why he kept me out of the ward until people who had come to see me left. I told the doctor that my children were waiting outside then he told me no, nobody has come. By then I was fully conscious. I questioned them as to why they were keeping me inside.
?Later my husband had asked this doctor why I had not been brought back to the ward since I was taken at 2:30 p.m. and by then it was past 6:30 p.m. It was only then that this doctor asked forgiveness from my husband saying that my leg has been amputated.
?I cannot suffer like this. I cannot even go to the toilet. I don`t want to be a problem for my children. I don`t want to go home, just give me some poison, I told the doctor and everybody.
?It is by selling eatables that I live. As my husband got ill when my children were young it was by my work that I brought up my children. I brought them up like that even until I was able to give daughters in marriage.`
The AHRC statement said:
`In any hospital there will be measures to ensure the identity
of persons before they are taken to the operating theatre. In such serious operations as amputations there will be strict procedures and consultations to be followed.
?None of these have been done in this case. Now Nazeera is under pressure by those who want to hush up the case. As she is a poor woman, the pressure on her would be very high.
?Had this happened to anybody from more influential sectors of society by now, there would have been an uproar`.