A few days ago, the incident regarding that National University Hospital (NUS) and a pregnant woman who lost her baby at 36 weeks’ gestation shocked and angered Singaporeans islandwide.
After the Facebook post which included details of her and her husband’s experience at NUH blew up, many demanded answers from NUH and chastised the hospital for their irresponsible behaviour when handling the patient.
NUH later issued a statement, asking the public to refrain from speculating “out of respect for the family”.
Er… Well, we all knew how that went.
The grieving parents has since spoken with 8world News for a video interview that the news outlet posted on Tuesday (22 March).
Here is the video of them explaining what had happened:
The parents are both 37 years old this year. The woman who suffered the loss of her unborn child in the tragic incident, whose surname is Lee, was accompanied by her husband whose surname is Tham.
Here’s what happened.
Lee’s Account of What Had Happened
Lee began by explaining what had happened after noticing that she was bleeding.
After spotting three bright red drops of blood around her, she realised that she had begun to bleed profusely and was unable to stop the bleeding.
Lee had also been down with COVID-19 at that time but highlighted that she had already tested “clear negative” on 15 March, the day of the incident. Her seven-day isolation ended on 13 March, but her COVID-19 tests after that were still positive.
This resulted in her being unable to attend two of her medical examinations. She rescheduled them to 16 March instead.
The Trip to A&E
In the interview, the couple mentioned that Lee had passed the COVID-19 virus to Tham, and as such he was unable to go to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department with his wife.
The couple also has two other children, and as such Tham had to stay at home to take care of them as well.
Hence, one of Lee’s friends followed her to the hospital. However, this friend of hers was not allowed to enter the A&E department, which meant that Lee had to be in the A&E department of NUH alone.
Once the ambulance reached the hospital, the paramedic who was in charge of escorting Lee to NUH updated the NUH staff with the relevant information regarding Lee’s condition.
Lee’s Experience in A&E
However, Lee then proceeded to emphasise that there was not a single healthcare staff member from NUH who attended to her once she reached the A&E.
She recounted how she was extremely weak and in an immense amount of pain at that time, and that she did not have the energy to ask for medical staff to come and check on her.
She overheard some nurses talking about how there were no more beds available in the maternity ward at that time, which meant that Lee would have to continue waiting in the A&E department.
Apparently, there was also another older female patient in the A&E who asked a male nurse why it was taking so long for her ailments to be attended to.
To that, the nurse replied, “Everyone (referring to the NUH medical staff) is busy, and there are no spare beds, so everyone (the patients) have to wait.”
Only Attended to At Around 12.40 AM
After a gruelling two hours of being left alone in the A&E, Lee was finally attended to at around 12.40 am on 16 March.
She was then taken to the maternity ward, and the doctors and nurses on duty there instantly started to carry out checks and scans on her.
In the video, Lee recounted how a nurse remarked to her, “Why are you still bleeding?”
Unborn Child No Longer Had a Heartbeat
Upon conducting an ultrasound scan, the doctor treating Lee had to break the news that no parent wants to hear: That her son had no heartbeat.
The doctor also mentioned that her unborn child’s heart was still intact, but confirmed that there was no heartbeat after trying to find one three to four times.
The doctor then apologised to her, telling her that her child had passed away due to a placental abruption, which caused an intrauterine fetal death.
A placental abruption is a rare complication that occurs when the placenta separates from the inner wall of a woman’s uterus before she delivers her baby. It affects approximately 1% of women worldwide.
Lee then said that she asked the doctor if there was any way to resuscitate her child.
To that, the doctor apparently responded with a firm and almost instant “no”.
Delivery of Her Stillborn Child
After confirming that Lee’s child had passed away, NUH staff took her to the surgical ward where doctors performed a caesarean section to take the baby out of her body.
At that point, she was under full general anaesthesia.
The baby, a boy, was delivered at 3.15 am based on his certification of registration of still-birth that was shown in the video.
Afterwards, Lee regained consciousness at approximately 5am on 16 March. She said that when she came to, she saw that her stillborn baby was placed on her.
Lee was only discharged on 20 March as she had to undergo a blood transfusion treatment due to the large amount of blood she had lost through the ordeal.
What Happened After the Incident
After Lee’s traumatic experience with the hospital, the couple felt like they had to “do something”, which resulted in the now-viral post that Tham posted on Facebook earlier this week on 21 March.
In the post, which has since been shared over 4,700 times on Facebook, Tham openly asked for answers regarding why there was such a low level of support offered to patients in the A&E, especially since patients like his wife were bleeding profusely throughout their time there.
In the interview, the couple also claimed that even if the baby ended up being stillborn, they would not have blamed NUH staff if they had attended to Lee immediately and if they had offered her the necessary medical support in a timely manner.
However, due to the manner in which NUH staff attended to the matter, the couple chose to make their experience public.
Lee also added that it was a “very serious matter” with “life-threatening” consequences and that it was handled in a “very unprofessional” manner.
Raising Awareness for the Future
Lee and Tham ended the interview by explaining that they wished for their post to “create awareness” regarding complications and incidents like these, which will hopefully reduce their occurrence in the future.
“We should do something; we don’t want the same thing to happen to other mommies,” Lee said.
She also emphasises that if Tham had not put out the Facebook post, NUH would not have contacted her.
In the same vein, Tham also revealed that he had asked if the doctors who had attended to Lee were available to speak to him before Lee was discharged, as he wanted to provide feedback as well as seek out answers regarding what had happened.
However, he was told repeatedly that the doctors were either not around or that they were unavailable to speak to him. This continued until Lee was discharged, which meant that Tham did not get the chance to speak to any of the NUH doctors in person at all.
In the early hours of today, NUH posted an update regarding what had happened during the same incident and included their response as well.
Let’s just say that it’s probably much better for your blood pressure if you don’t read this.
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