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YOBE TRIPLETS: MOTHER, SURVIVING BABY BATTLE FOR LIFE

By NBF News

The mother of the triplets, Fatsuma (25) who had been in a comma for almost ten days is also back to life after receiving two pints of blood. Fatsuma who was hitherto on the brink of death, now utters few words to her siblings.

Doctors said she suffered septicaemia- a condition of the blood, characterized by increasingly high levels of bacteria in the circulatory system, with resulting infection of tissues and organs.

The triplets on the other hand, suffered from what doctors described as lack of care, infection and hunger and unfortunately, two of them, all boys, died before help came their way.

Professor Ambe Joseph, a consultant paediatrician at the University of Maiduguri, who saw the remaining triplet, sympathized that they (triplets) went through difficulties.

At the time of his visit to Maryam Abacha Maternal and Child Care Centre in Damaturu, the surviving girl was only wrapped in (atamfa) one of the plain clothes of her mother.

'No, no, no, this is not the ideal…the babies ought to be in an incubator because they are premature. They are also supposed to be fed two- hourly. In the present arrangement, they are vulnerable to everything,' Dr Ambe said.

Unfortunately, the maternal and child carecentre had no incubator, no paediatric nurse and other equipment necessary for the upkeep of the likes of the triplets, a development which aggravated their problem.

That apart, the tribulations of Fatsuma, a Fulani woman and her triplets, did not begin at the hospital because it was also a product of poverty and culture.

It began over two weeks ago in Kalallawa village of Tarmuwa local government where the children arrived this world at a hamlet, the traditional settlement of the Fulanis.

Hajara who is the grandmother of the triplets, said Fatsuma collapsed shortly after putting to bed. 'We didn't contemplate going to any hospital because we thought she fainted because of the pains of labour, more so, she delivered the  triplets at home, which is very unusual,' she said.

'For the triplets, though they were tiny, the fact that they cried shortly on arrival made us believe they had come to stay,' she added.

From family accounts, Fatsuma had about three separate pregnancies and deliveries but none of the children survived.

Her husband, Bukar Jibril, a herdsman, said when the triplets survived for two days; he thought they had come to stay. 'Unfortunately, two of them have died. My prayer is that God will allow the remaining one to survive…so that I can see the fruit of my marriage. I also pray that my wife will make it,' he added.But for the next three days, the condition of Fatsuma deteriorated while her three babies, despite their premature delivery remained at the mercy of traditional concoctions and birth attendants.

It was when the family realised that the status of Fatsuma was not just a result of prolonged and painful labour that they resolved to evacuate her to a health care centre in Babban-Gida, the headquarters of Tarmuwa LGA. At the centre, the nurses could not help and therefore, Fatsuma, accompanied by her triplets (who were presumed to be well) were then moved to Damaturu where her condition and that of the babies remained pathetic for an additional three days.

Weekly trust gathered that what aggravated the problem was not just lack of gynaecologists and paediatrics but bureaucratic lapses at the Maryam Abacha maternal and childcare centre.

Before attending to exceptional cases, nurses at the centre had to talk to many people, including the matron in charge of the maternity who would pass the message to those in charge of health centres at the state level. Then, the director of health in the ministry of health, followed by the permanent secretary and finally, the commissioner.

It was further gathered that whenever anyone in the chain is not around, then patients have to wait, no matter the situation and that was exactly the case of the triplets and their mother.

Because the permanent secretary was not around, every other person was afraid to tell the deputy governor Engineer Abubakar Ali, who is also the in charge of the ministry of health that there are triplets who are at  the mercy of God.

And when some journalists heard of the situation, they made frantic attempts to see him without success. Text messages sent to him were also not replied, a development which prompted many newspaper reports that triplets were 'abandoned' in hospital.

A day after, a close aide of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam who read the reports took the challenge and made several contacts; a development which prompted the 'commissioner of health' to direct his permanent secretary, Yahaya Barde, the executive secretary of the state's health services management board, Sule Mamudo and other notable doctors to visit the triplets at the hospital.

The visit of the health officials was however 'nearly belated' because just a few minutes before their arrival, two of the kids died.

That notwithstanding, on the directives of the permanent secretary, the remaining baby and the mother were summarily moved to the Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, also in Damaturu, where they were subjected to rigorous medical screening.

The Principal Medical Officer of the Hospital (PMO), Dr. Abdullahi Usman, said there was actually a 'break in of communication' between his hospital and the Maryam Abacha Maternity and Childcare Centre.

'We were not aware of the problem at the initial stage but as you can see the surviving baby who is now in an incubator is in stable condition and is responding to treatment,' the PMO said, adding that she has very high chances of surviving. 'The incubator is now providing an ambient temperature for the baby and I am sure her condition is okay,' he added

Asked if the incubator at the specialist hospital was just procured because of the case of the triplets, Dr Usman said no. 'It has been here since 2002…we got it under the medical equipment delivered to the state through the NEXIM Bank arrangement,' he said.

He said the lives of the triplets were compromised in the village, adding that even after their arrival in the hospital, anything could have happened. 'The lungs of the triplets, their digestive system and immune system were all weak,' he said

Dr. Sameer Mohammed, an Egyptian pediatrician  and Ladi Abba Kurama, a padiatric nurse who are now taking care of the surviving baby triplet, said they now feed her two-hourly courtesy of the breast milk they are collecting from a volunteer.

'We give her 10 milligram of breast milk and her condition is improving,' Kurama said.

The ministry of religious affairs, through its permanent secretary, Modu Jumbam, has also donated N25, 000 to the families of the triplets.

'Our greatest joy is that we still have one of the babies and the mother is recuperating. My prayer is that may Allah reward all the people who are associated with this development. May he also improve the health of the patients,' Jibril, the father of the triplets also prayed.