Father cries out over inability to retrieve daughter’s corpse from hospital morgue over unpaid bills

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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 to recover her body from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) mortuary for burial.

Glory reportedly died July 15 at the UBTH following an illness, but the management of the hospital is said to have refused to release her corpse over the inability of the parents to settle an outstanding bill of almost N400,000.

The family is appealing to the Edo State Government, NGOs and public-spirited individuals to come to their aid.

Narrating his predicament to reporters, the 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 the family in debt to a lot of persons in their desperation to save her life.

“I learnt 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 was the one that led to her death. What actually happened was that we thought it was fever or any other thing. We took her to someplace.

“They treated fever. After two, or three days, we saw one of the eyes swollen. 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 will almost swallow it; very soft like a newborn 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 now referred us to UBTH. That is how we got to UBTH. That was June 29, 2022.

“She was admitted, and anytime I got there, they would only write drugs; do tests, x-ray. 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 would be bringing one, they would be writing another. You need to see the receipts; it’s a heap. Even many of the drugs are still there that she did not use.

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“When she died now, I wanted to carry her body to go and bury. They asked me to go and bring N393,910 which I did not have. All that I had before, I have spent on her and I am even owing many people. What I spent for her treatment alone is even more than the bill they have given me. I don’t have money again. To eat now is even a problem for us. No help again because I cannot go again to the people who I borrowed money from before.”

On the effort he had made since the death of the child, Ekeleyede said “The child died on the 15th of July and since then she has been in the mortuary. I went to plead with them; 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 will not release her body to us to bury. 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 is 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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