One man has died and other lives are at risk because there is no drill to perform brain surgeries at the Port of Spain General Hospital.
Rahil Hosein, 55, of Tobago, a former foreman at the Ministry of Works, died on October 6—seven days after being hospitalised waiting for brain surgery, which never happened because there was no drill.
A senior source at the hospital told the Express the hospital has been without a drill for the past four months, as the drill that was there previously was old and unserviceable.
The source said scores of cases were being cancelled and patients in critical care were in danger, as the hospital remained without a drill.
All patients are being informed that there is no drill and they must go home. Only critical patients are being kept.
According to the source, chief executive officer Judith Balliram-Ramoutar enquired about the drill and was given the assurance that a new one would be bought only after the matter was raised on Ian Alleyne's Crime Watch show on TV6 last week.
Alleyne told the Express yesterday that at least three families had complained to him about the absence of a drill at the hospital, including the family of a woman in critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
While patients are suffering as a result of this, a source told the Express special provisions were made to treat a relative of a former member of parliament who had a brain tumour and was in need of surgery.
Sources said a drill was transported to the Port of Spain hospital from the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, some three weeks ago for the surgery, and it was transported back.
Since then, however, that drill has become unworkable—rendering the hospitals at Port of Spain and Mt Hope without drills.
It is unknown if other people have died as a result of the inability to conduct life-saving brain surgery.
One death that is certain is that of Hosein.
Hosein's wife, Abbygail Aji, told the Express of the horror she endured at Port of Spain General, and questioned whether her husband would be alive today if he had received the surgery that was urgently needed.
She said on September 27, she and her husband were having dinner, when he complained to her about a headache and she called an ambulance after his speech changed. She said he was making strange faces and she thought he was having a stroke.
Hosein, she said, was taken to the Scarborough General Hospital, where they waited almost five hours before being attended to by a doctor.
At 5 a.m. the next day, he was admitted to a ward and a CT scan was done, which detected a brain tumour. Aji said she was in shock, as Hosein never showed any symptoms of a brain tumour. "The doctors told me the situation was bad and he had to go to Trinidad," she said.
On September 28, Hosein was airlifted to Port of Spain General, where tests were undertaken.
Aji said after ensuring her blind mother was being cared for, she flew to Trinidad on September 29 and went to the hospital, where doctors informed her Hosein needed surgery and four pints of blood.
The blood was donated by Hosein's family and they were told to return to the hospital on October 2 to speak to the consultant.
Aji said she followed instructions and returned to the hospital and literally had to hunt all over to find the consultant.
The consultant, she said, did not see her, but sent a house doctor, who informed her the surgery could not have been done because there was no drill. She was also told the most that could have been done was to stabilise Hosein until there was a drill.
"I went back again the next day to find the consultant and again spoke to the house doctor, who said basically the same thing—they will stabilise him and send him home," said Aji.
"At this point, Rahil (Hosein) had taken a turn for the worse. He was heaving off the bed, trying to breathe. I was horrified. The doctors told me he might have a touch of pneumonia," she said.
She said doctors instructed the ICU staff to look at Hosein, but nothing happened.
Aji said she was only allowed to visit her husband during visiting hours so she would wait in the car park from afternoon to evening for the next visiting time.
By Friday, she said Hosein's condition had worsened. "He had the empty oxygen mask on his forehead, he couldn't breathe, no tests were done, he was just lying there," she said.
"The doctors came and asked me what's the problem. I'm the one out in the car park and they are the ones with him, and they asking me what's the problem," she said.
"On Saturday morning, we got the phone call that he died at 7.38 a.m.," said Aji.
"I don't know if he would have survived the surgery and whether he was strong enough, but they gave us hope when they said they will do the surgery.
"We really can't tell what would have happened, but they gave us hope and led us to believe that he would have a chance," said Aji.