A four-week-old Nigerian baby boy, Goodluck Caubergs, bled to death after a poorly-handled home circumcision by a Nigerian nurse, a court heard On Monday.
The baby died a day after the nurse, Grace Adeleye, 66, carried out the procedure without anaesthetic and using only a pair of scissors, forceps and olive oil, the Manchester Crown Court, in the United Kingdom, heard.
The medic, a Nigerian, like the parents of the baby, was apparently introduced to the parents of the baby because of the Nigerian ties binding them, especially as Adeleye was said to have performed such operations with so much “experience and skill”, several times in the past, also among Nigerian families.
Adeleye, also a midwife, was paid £100 (about N25,400) to do the operation, as Goodluck’s parents were not aware the procedure was available at the NHS (National Health Service).
The Royal Oldham Hospital was just a mile and a half from the family home in Chadderton, near Oldham, where the little baby could have been better circumcised and his life saved.
Adeleye of Sarnia Court, Salford, Greater Manchester, however, denied manslaughter by gross negligence of the baby boy. But the prosecution argued that she botched the procedure by leaving a “ragged” wound that bled, and her post-op care was also woefully inadequate.
Adrian Darbishire (QC), who opened the case for the prosecution, told the jury: “The allegation essentially here is that the care she provided in the course of that procedure was so bad that not only did it cause the death of that young baby wholly unnecessarily, but it amounted to gross negligence and a crime.”
Darbishire said circumcisions were routinely carried out amongst Christian families in Nigeria who had brought the tradition with them to the UK, and the procedure was an “ancient, well established and widespread” practice across the world.
But the court heard that up to three children a month are admitted to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital due to bleeding after home-based circumcisions — a danger the nurse should have been aware of.
Goodluck was born on March 22, 2010, in Rochdale and died on April 17, the day after the circumcision, aged 27 days old.
Around 5 pm on April 16, 2010, Goodluck’s father, Olajunti Fatunla, was said to have brought Adeleye by car to the family home — and the nurse sent him immediately to get some Calpol while she and the mother, Sylvia Attiko, got on with the operation.
Once inside, Adeleye told the boy’s mother to fetch some olive oil and a bowl of warm water and the child was stripped to just his vest. Adeleye then brought her ‘instruments’ out of her handbag and dipped a pair of scissors into the water in a kidney dish. “At that point Sylvia closed her eyes,” Darbishire said.
“Goodluck had had no anaesthetic or local pain relief at this point and that is not how this should be done. “By the time Sylvia opened her eyes the operation was over.
“She could see the foreskin between the blades of the scissors.”
Adeleye then cleaned the wound with cotton wool and applied a bandage.
The boy was “crying throughout” and the wound was bleeding, but Adeleye told the mother this was normal, the court heard.
The defendant left the house between 30 and 40 minutes after the surgery and the £100 had been handed over, without any proper checks on the patient after the procedure, it was alleged.
Later, the parents found the bandage had come off the wound, which dripped with blood and there was blood in the nappy.
Darbishire said even a small amount of blood loss is dangerous and the loss of just one sixth of a pint of blood can be fatal for a newborn. The concerned parents, who had no medical training, called the defendant around two-and-a-half hours later.
Adeleye told them the bleeding was normal and “not a problem” and advised a change of nappy and bandage and to apply olive oil. In fact Adeleye should have advised immediate medical attention.
“To delay and reassure was simply not appropriate,” the prosecutor told the jury.
“His parents remained concerned but they had been reassured by the defendant,” Darbishire narrated.
However, the following morning it was clear something was wrong and at 7.20 am an ambulance was called. Darbishire added: “I have no doubt there will be much criticism of the parents by their inaction.
“But can I invite you to consider this. One of the hardest things as a parent, especially parents of a young child, is knowing when to be worried and how worried to be.
“But on the other hand no one wants to make a fuss about nothing.”
A post-mortem examination found that Goodluck died from blood loss after the circumcision. Darbishire said: “His death was wholly unnecessary. He bled to death over a period of many hours when medical assistance, which could have saved his life, was minutes away.”
The trial, scheduled to last two weeks, was adjourned to today.
So what went wrong for a nurse and midwife, who probably had practised the profession for about two decades? Could Adeleye with her “experience and skill” not have known what exactly she needed for such an operation? Had there been any previous failed and fatal circumcisions by her? Was it a mere error or professional negligence? All of these questions will be addressed or answered as the court continues with the case.
Whatever it is, it is doubtful that the British justice system will take kindly to the needless death caused by her action.