Contrary to the allegation that most patients taken to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu (NOHE) usually returned after treatment without their legs or hands, even when there might be no reason for amputation, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Cajethan Nwadinigwe, has said it is only done on some patients and for good reason.
He said the hospital served the entire South-East, South-South, and North Central parts of the country.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, Dr. Nwadinigwe also reacted to the accusation that the hospital, due to lack of facilities, was fond of referring patients to traditional bone setters for treatment, insisting that such allegation was not only baseless but false and wicked - meant to rubbish the image of the hospital.
He said many patients do not tell the whole truth in matters involving amputation of their legs or hands.
He said: “Somebody had an accident and he goes to Obiagu or somewhere in Emene and some constrictive bondage are tied cutting off the blood supply. And the leg begins to decay. And the native bone healer at Obiagu or Emene says please go, we can no longer manage this. By this time, germs have entered the patient; he is running temperature, and it is either he dies with the decaying leg or you remove the leg that is bearing germs and the man will live.
“The patient comes here smelling; by the time they are coming here, their money is finished. The man (native bone setter) at Obiagu or Emene had collected all the money they had. So you rally round, get blood, do the necessary things, remove the diseased leg, and he lives. When he goes home, people come to see him and ask him what happened, and he said oh, you know I had accident. I went to the orthopaedic hospital and they cut off my leg. He will forget to tell you the history, where he was coming from.”
According to Dr. Nwadinigwe, the second aspect of the allegation involving ‘random amputation’ of patients’ legs is that many Nigerians are diabetic without knowing it, although he observed that even those who know they are suffering diabetic would be visiting one prayer house or the other looking for cure.
He explains thus: “One day, a certain pastor will tell them, oh, I laid hands on you and the diabetes is healed, and the patient says amen, I claim it. And he drops his medicine.
By the time he knows it, he is cutting his finger nails or something, toe nails and the razor blade gets into the flesh, and his condition gets bad. Next time you see him, his leg has swollen. And the patients quickly tells you ‘it’s earth poison and he stepped on it’ and now the leg has swollen. This same patient continues to stay and stay until every part of that leg is decaying. And his people will come and tell him why don’t you try orthopaedic hospital? And then the patient comes here and we try to control the infection, control the diabetics, and remove the killing leg. Then the patient goes home and tells people that he went to orthopaedic hospital and they cut off his leg.”
Nwadinigwe recalled a university professor who also fell into the trap of native bone setters and their intrigues, saying that the don only came to hospital when his case had degenerated to full blown gangrene after patronising the traditional bone repairer.
“In the beginning, he didn’t want to disclose his identity because it now became obvious to him that he conducted himself to the lowest level. So this is a problem that requires regular collaboration with the press and the hospital to be able to tell our people that you must go to the hospital early when you have this kind of problem,” Nwadinigwe said.
On the allegation of referring patients to traditional bone setters by NOHE, Nwadinigwe said it was needless commenting on it, except the reporter presented to him evidence of such referral in form of a NOHE headed paper containing such signed and authenticated letter from the hospital.
He said the government has been taking care of the hospital since it was established in 1974 during the administration of Dr. Ukpabi Asika as the administrator of old East Central State before it was converted to a federal hospital by the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1976.
NOHE was set up with clear objectives – those objectives are one, to render services – treatment of individuals with problems affecting the bones, muscles, tendon, ligaments and the nerves – what you call muscular skeletal system; it also renders services in the area of burns and plastic surgery.
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