39-year-old Celestine Uzodike, the husband of a woman who was delivered of septuplets, of which six survived in Anambra State, narrates the circumstances surrounding the delivery and other issues at hand
Can you introduce yourself?
I am Celestine Uzodike, and I am from Omogho in the Orumba Local Government Area of Anambra State. I am a government worker. I currently reside in Awka. I am married, and my wife has just delivered a set of seven babies, two boys and five girls, but one of the girls did not come out alive.
What is the name of your wife, and when did you get married?
My wife’s name is Ngozi Uzodike; she is 36 years old, and we got married in September 2020.
Where is she from?
She is from Umunze in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Have you had children before the new babies?
We have had none. The seven babies are our first children, and they will be the last.
Has she been pregnant before then?
No. This is her first pregnancy.
Why are you seeking assistance?
The cost of caring for the babies is enormous, and we have exhausted all we have. The babies came out prematurely at 26th week gestation period and the hospital said they will need to be placed under intensive care unit and each of them will cost N3m. One of them has died, leaving six survivors.
Their organs are still developing, and they will need to be placed in an intensive care unit to be given adequate care. I have had a series of meetings with the management of the hospital, and they told me that I should be expecting approximately N19m at the rate of N3.2m per child. This is to care for them for two months. I have spent all I have, and we don’t really know where to get the money from, which is why we are seeking the intervention of the government and every well-meaning individual.
How much have you paid altogether?
We have managed to pay N1.6m out of the N19m billed by the hospital. The hospital is complaining that they are exhausting their oxygen and will need more money to continue; hence, we started seeking assistance.
How did you get to the hospital where your wife gave birth?
Before coming to this hospital, when my situation became critical on Saturday night, we had gone to different teaching hospitals. It became a scary moment for me as we were being referred to the different hospitals, as they were saying they could not handle her situation, until the chief medical doctor of the Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital referred us to the hospital where she finally delivered, and that was around 3am, but we could not move at that time because of the security situation.
We arrived at the Obijackson Women and Children Hospital, Okija, at about 7am and the process of delivery commenced at about 9am. Before the commencement, we did not have the money we were asked to deposit. I made some contacts and rallied some friends who helped make up for the money we used in making the deposit payment.
Were they conceived through IVF?
Some of the babies
No. It was a natural conception.
How were they delivered?
It was through a caesarean section. Had I not been in the theatre, I would not have believed that the seven babies came out of my wife’s body.
On that fateful day, December 8, when my wife entered the theatre, the doctor and his team commenced the operation. The first one came out, the second one followed, and just when we thought that that was all, the third one followed, and they kept coming out till the seventh one. Although the sixth one, a female, did not make it alive, the seventh one came out alive.
Before their delivery, were you expecting seven babies?
We were not at all. My wife became pregnant in July 2022, and she started going for antenatal care every two weeks. We were also going for a scan every month, and in all the scans we went to, nobody saw seven babies; we were only told that they were twins, and we were expecting twins. We went for different scans, and nobody told us there were up to seven babies in that womb, and the scan never showed seven babies.
It was indicated that your wife is a lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka?
Yes, at the Department of Business Administration. She started working there in 2020. She got the job three months after our wedding, and we were so happy. But to our greatest surprise, she has not received one month’s salary since she started that job, and she has been promoted from Assistant Lecturer to Lecturer II.
Why has she not been paid?
The authorities are saying it is the problem of the IPPIS platform. Although she is not the only one, many of them have the problem.
How is she feeling since the delivery of the babies?
For three days, she was very unconscious, but between yesterday and today, she appears stronger, and I hope her condition continues to improve.
How did you feel when the babies were coming out?
At first, I felt happy, but on second thought, it became a mixed feeling of both tears of joy and sorrow as I remembered the financial implications and the economic situation we are in right now.
In fact, I am still shocked, speechless. If I wasn’t at the theatre room when the babies were coming out and I came and they showed me seven babies, I would have fled, thinking it was a joke, but because I was there, I saw the whole thing as it was happening. I never saw this coming.
How the various scans we did never revealed that my wife was carrying seven babies still remains a puzzle to me.
Was there any complication during the pregnancy?
From the day she was conceived in July 2022, she was very strong.
In fact, a few days before the delivery, we attended a friend’s wedding ceremony, and she was moving from place to place without any sign of complication. The contraption started on the first week in January, we visited our hospital, where she was placed on a drip and it stopped and thereafter, it will be coming and going, until the day she finally started delivering on Saturday, at about 11.30pm when the contraption became much.
At that point, we were asked to go to the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu Teaching Hospital, Amaku, where she was stabilised until we were finally referred to the hospital where she delivered the babies.
People are of the opinion that the fee for the delivery was way too much. Do you agree with this?
It’s not too much because I saw how hard the hospital worked to ensure everything went smoothly. The babies are placed on 24-hour oxygen and under intensive care to enable their organs develop.
I was of that opinion too until the hospital management sat me down and started analysing all the costs of care for the babies in these two months.
The hospital said the N19m is because each of the babies will stay six to eight weeks in the hospital and be under intensive care, which will cost around N3m each. They also said the children were weighing only 1kg.
Has the government reached out to you?
Yes, the women’s affairs commissioner called on behalf of the government of Anambra State, saying that they had heard about it and were going to intervene but we were still expecting them.
Even after the report went public yesterday, people have been calling to inquire about it to know if it is true or not and trying to confirm the story, and we have been receiving various interventions from concerned people.
How much has been gathered altogether and how much specifically is left out of the money required?
Currently, about N150,000 is in my account, and about N200,000 is in my wife’s account, making it about N350,000. We still have a long way to go, which is why we are appealing to good spirited individuals to come to our rescue.