A couple, Emeka and Stella Okoli, have sued the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited over alleged medical negligence that led to the damage of their son’s brain.

The couple, who work with the company, are seeking payment of N50bn as damages.

In suit number PHC/2338/2021 filed before the Rivers State High Court, the couple accused two doctors of Shell Hospital, Dr Alexander Dimoko and Dr Dafe Akpoduado, of negligence while performing an appendectomy surgery on their son, Chinazam, sometime in September 2016.

The defendants in the suit are Shell, Dimoko and Akpoduado.

The couple, in a 55-paragraph statement of claims, alleged that the doctors operated on their son without making scientific enquiries, adding that the procedure the doctors claimed would take 45 minutes extended to five hours, which made their son unconscious. The boy later suffered severe seizures at the end of the surgery.

The statement of claims read in part, “Whilst Shell doctors claimed that the outcome was a result of drug reaction, qualified specialists in South Africa and United States have confirmed hypoxia caused by lack of oxygen to the brain during surgery.

“Dr Dafe Akpoduado, the anaesthetist, wrongly administered spinal instead of general anaesthesia; he did not administer appropriate drugs in anticipation of the complications that ultimately caused Chinazam’s brain damage.

“Now aged 15, he is unable to perform independently any activity of daily living –walk, talk, eat, sit or ease himself. He is constantly drooling, suffers regular seizures and must be carried in and out of a wheelchair or bed.”

According to the couple, Chinazam’s health had disrupted their lives and caused them psychological trauma.

The family also accused Shell’s management of “embarking on a pattern of deceit and non-disclosure of medical records in an attempt to cover up the negligence,” adding that the report of an external medical expert commissioned by the company to review Chinazam’s botched operation was kept secret despite repeated demands for it by the couple.

According to the couple, while the two doctors involved were sacked, Shell had refused to take responsibility for the negligence and failed to provide a viable life care plan for the victim and also rejected a life care plan provided by doctors in the United States.

The suit filed by the couple would come up for hearing before Justice Weli Chechey of the Rivers State High Court on December 8, 2021.

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