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Couple demand N50bn from Shell over son’s brain damage

Emeka and Stella Okoli have filed a lawsuit against Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited for claimed medical negligence that resulted in their son’s brain damage.

The pair, who both work for the corporation, are seeking N50 billion in damages.

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

Shell, Dimoko, and Akpoduado are the defendants in the lawsuit.

In a 55-paragraph statement of claims, the couple claimed that the doctors operated on their son without doing scientific research, and that the treatment that was supposed to take 45 minutes took five hours, rendering their son unconscious. At the conclusion of the procedure, the boy had severe convulsions.

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.

Chinazam’s health, according to the couple, had disturbed their lives and caused them psychological distress.

Shell’s management was also accused by the family of “engaging in a pattern of deception 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 the couple’s repeated requests for it.

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

On December 8, 2021, the couple’s lawsuit will be heard before Justice Weli Chechey of the Rivers State High Court.

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Written by Babatunde Okerayi

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