Nigeria: Give the Ogbole Sisters Justice in Belgium

30 April 2021

The travails of two Nigerian women, Mrs. Ajima Ogbole-Spittael and Susan Ogbole, her sister, in a Belgium hospital deserve global attention and intervention by the Nigerian government and international agencies.

After a doctor at Az Sint-Jan Bruges hospital, Belgium, had mistakenly cut and permanently damaged Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael's cervix in a surgery meant to remove fibroid growths from her womb in 2017, another doctor in the same hospital administered an anesthesia on her sister, Mrs. Susan Ogbole, which paralysed her from the waist down.

The amputation of Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael's cervix rendered her incapable of getting pregnant. The most painful part of the Ogbole women's story is the inhumane treatment which the hospital and its doctors have subjected the suffering women who insist it is because they are Blacks.

At first, Az Sint-Jan Bruges refused to admit that Dr. Van De Vijver who carried out the surgery on Ogbole-Spittael made a mistake during the surgery, until in 2019 when they were forced to accept the error after overwhelming expert medical analyses and reports.

After balking at payment of negotiated compensation to Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael and her husband, the hospital offered to help Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael have a baby through surrogacy. Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael accepted the offer and chose her sister-in-law, Susan Ogbole, a mother of two, to be the surrogate mother.

After administering an epidural anaesthetic on Mrs. Ogbole on October 15, 2020, for a cesarean operation, the baby was delivered but the surrogate mother, Mrs. Ogbole, who had travelled from Nigeria to Belgium for that purpose, became paralysed and has remained in the hospital to date, unable to walk or use her legs.

Without remorse or sympathy for the Ogbole family whose lives they have destroyed, the Belgian hospital and doctors have again refused to acknowledge the error. To rub salt into injury, the hospital has continued to send bills to the family.

Although we understand that the Ogbole family has taken the matter to court, we wish to appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian government to intervene in this heart-rending tragedy brought upon these two Nigerian citizens in Belgium.

Mrs. Ogbole-Spittael is a Nigerian woman legally married to a Belgian; she is not a criminal, neither is her sister-in-law whom she invited to Belgium to be a surrogate mother of her baby. The Ogbole sisters deserve justice.

We understand also that the hospital is employing every known strategy, including dragging the matter in court, to frustrate this family and prevent them from getting justice for the way their lives have been ruined by the hospital.

We must show readiness to respond to the dehumanisation of our citizens in any part of the world. That is what makes citizens to love their countries.

Give the Ogbole sisters justice.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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