No one culpable for death of young mother
Family feels all alone
By Kim Lucas
November 22, 2002
Six months after a young mother died of a septic infection at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the Medical Council of Guyana yesterday reported that no one has been found negligent or can be held culpable.
Eighteen-year-old Holly Rigby died in May, one month after giving birth to her first child and two weeks after doctors performed an emergency surgery. At the time of her death, Rigby's relatives said the doctors had extracted a quantity of sanitary napkins from her uterus.
But when contacted yesterday, Chairman of the Medical Council, Dr. M.Y. Bacchus told Stabroek News that GPHC doctors had performed a "clean out" operation after the teen was rushed there from the West Demerara Regional Hospital. Bacchus insisted that "nothing was left inside her".
According to the medical practitioner, a subsequent investigation of the matter showed that Rigby had developed an infection, which he suspects, might have occurred during childbirth.
"Nobody was found negligible...she [Rigby] was seen by quite a number of doctors and given a whole set of antibiotics...We are at a loss to know why she died," Bacchus said. The matter, he said, is now closed.
Reports reaching Stabroek News at the time stated that Rigby had started complaining of feeling "stuffy" sometime after delivering her baby boy at the West Demerara Regional Hospital in April. Two weeks later, she was back in the same hospital.
Rigby's sister Paulette, is maintaining that when the young woman's condition worsened she was rushed to the GPHC where doctors operated and found the napkins, as well as pieces of afterbirth.
Two weeks later, while still a patient of the institution, Rigby died leaving behind her son, Ducquain, just one month old.
This newspaper on Tuesday found the child in his aunt's care at her Long Pond home in Sister's Village, West Bank of Demerara. He had turned seven months old that day and was the image of happiness, bouncing around on Paulette's knees.
But the family's sorrow was still evident in both Paulette and her mother, Ulilly Dey. According to the elder woman, it is difficult for her to stay in the home at Crane, West Coast Demerara, that she shared with her youngest daughter, Holly.
"This thing [Holly's death] does got me out of meh head. Maybe is because I never had somebody die before..." the woman said with a faraway look in her eyes. What hurts her more is the lack of answers.
Shortly after the young woman's death, Paulette had written to the authorities, seeking an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Holly's death.
"Nobody ain't do anything for we," Dey lamented. But behind the sadness, there is pride.
Both women were adamant that if it meant begging before any assistance is granted, then they would prefer to continue in their struggle alone to raise baby Ducquain.
"As it is, I personally have three children and I have to try...I am not working. I am getting a little finance from [my mother], a little from myself and the child father. Nobody else give anything. I don't know the way it works, but if [to get some assistance] now is standing up on Mr. [C.N.] Sharma [programme with] this body saying this, and that body saying that, then me ain't want nothing...I don't want nothing what got contention. Because me ain't able with Guyanese today. Guyanese today different from when I born and grow up. Guyanese today like to talk more than anything else," Paulette Rigby said.
Paulette recalls that after she first publicised the circumstances under which Holly died, many people, including nurses who once treated Holly, turned against the family.
The family now feels they have met a brick wall.
"If we ain't struggle, he [Ducquain] would never grow. Nobody ain't got time with we to say well look this or look that. [We] have to take care of him...we never really push we nose to get anything. But personally it is just me, my mother, the child father struggle all along with this child. [His mother] say she ain't gon live and we must take care of him, because something moving up and down in she," Paulette recalled.
According to the women, after the baby's birth, Holly's breast were not giving milk, forcing Paulette, many nights, to spoon-feed the infant.
"I use to got to get up and feed this baby with spoon. That she even use to quarrel and say [the] nurse say breast feed."
In her last days at the hospital, they said Holly's skin became increasingly darker. The woman said some medical personnel felt the young woman's blood had become poisoned.
"When I checked the chart, the chart didn't have nothing on it. When I asked the nurse, `Like you all ain't treating Holly? The chart ain't got nothing on it.' She say, when the doctor come, ask he. Is afterward I hear that she ain't go live [because] the blood poison and they stop treating her," Dey recalled.
According to the elderly woman, her daughter's prolonged sickness drained the family of what little money they had and at the time of her death, they were broke.
"We didn't even had money. I had to go and see the insurance manager and 'til now, we ain't get the rest of money. He just oblige we that to bury the dead."
"Why this thing hurt me, is just a couple of mornings before our father died. By the time we could accumulate some more money, Holly sick. We did not even had money to bury Holly. Is a good thing she had insurance...After our father died, the little money that we had, we [were] trying to see if we could mend up the sick and by time we turn, the sick died," Paulette stated.
Baby Ducquain will never know his mother's face, or understand why she had to die, but from all indications, he has become the centre of life for his aunt, grandmother and father.
Stabroek News left him on Tuesday jumping merrily on his aunt's feet, with a wide toothless smile plastered across his face.