The family of a 12-year-old student of New Era College in Benin, Edo State, Glory Ekeleyde, who died in Benin University Hospital due to an illness, has asked for help to recover her corpse for burial.
The grieving father of the deceased, Samson, said that after his daughter died, UBTH management held the corpse due to the family’s inability to compensate Glory’s outstanding medical bill in the amount of N400,000.
The 66-year-old, who said he had been doing menial jobs to feed his family, explained that attempts to save his daughter’s life left the family heavily in debt.
He said: “Our finances were completely destroyed by Glory’s disease. I do little chores outside to feed my kids. My wife sells tomatoes and peppers in the market and that’s how we did it.
“Glory barely got sick, but the only time she got sick was the one that led to her death. We took her to a number of places for treatment because we thought she had a fever, but when she didn’t get better after three days, we went to the Supreme Hospital where she was born and they referred us to UBTH.
“At the UBTH we did a lot of tests and bought a lot of medicines, but she eventually died and we were told we had to pay an outstanding bill of N393,910 before we could take her corpse. They refused to give me her body until I paid the bill.”
Samson appealed to the Edo State government, non-governmental organizations and open-minded people to come to their aid in an effort to secure the release of his daughter’s corpse to fulfill her funeral rites.
Joshua Uwaila, the hospital’s public PR officer, said he was not aware of the matter, adding that the deceased’s father may not have gone through the appropriate channel to seek help from the hospital.
He said: “We have a medical social services department where cases of needy patients and social problems are handled and those are the ones who escalate it to management.
“Of course they also have to investigate whether you are really needy. So if you’re waiving bills or giving some people a discount, do your research to find out if it’s someone who deserves it.
“This has to do with the federal government’s revenue, and you can’t just tell them with fiat that they don’t have to pay. The best they can do is write to the CMD, who is the only person who can do something about the matter.”
Uwaila said management required payment for services rendered to maintain the hospital, adding that everyone should be careful about anything to do with government revenue.
“It’s a sad situation, but someone has to pay the money, Good Samaritans, charities, NGOs, someone has to foot the bill,” Uwaila said.