A Qatari man is appealing to authorities for answers after his wife died while giving birth to their son at Women’s Hospital in May.
Speaking to Al Raya this week, Ali Ghanim Al-Himaidi said his wife Shorooq Al-Sulaiti died after being admitted to the state-run hospital with labor pains.
He explained that he has gone public with his story because inquires to officials have gone unanswered, and that he will “never stop” his efforts until someone is held responsible.
On Twitter, residents are responding to Al-Himaidi’s plight under a hashtag of Al-Sulaiti’s name, demanding accountability and movement on the case.
In a rare move, many have singled out Qatar’s Minister of Public Health for answers, who Al-Himaidi said has been too busy to meet despite repeated requests:
ديوان سمو الامير مفتوح لشعبة، ووزراء يغلقون مكاتبهم في وجوه الموطنيين؟
شرف لكم خدمة المواطن
— Just Abduallah (@qatari77abo) July 12, 2016
Translation: Whereas the Emir’s Diwan is always open for his people, some ministers close their doors in the face of citizens. Who do you think you are? It’s an honor for you to serve this nation and its citizens.
Shorooq Al-Sulaiti went into labor on May 21, and was admitted to the ER at Women’s Hospital, where she was apparently told that her condition was not urgent.
But during her delivery the next day, she suffered heart failure and eventually died after her son was born via C-section.
However, Al-Himaidi said doctors at Women’s Hospital told him his wife in stable condition after a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and had been transferred to the intensive care unit at Hamad General Hospital next door.
Speaking to Al Raya, he said:
“It wasn’t until we made it to Hamad General that the doctor told me she was dead.
I accused him of killing her and he swore to me that she was already dead by the time she was brought there.”
He added that doctors there told him she had been dead for three hours.
When he lifted the covers on his wife, he observed burns on her chest (likely sustained when doctors tried to re-start her heart) and a great deal of blood.
“Her limbs were black in color and there were small black spots on the body. It was cold,” he added.
Cause of death
In a follow-up meeting with doctors to find out about more about his wife’s death, Al-Himaidi was told she died after embryonic fluid escaped into her bloodstream, a condition known as an Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE).
However, the doctor was not allowed to elaborate.
Al-Himaidi said that he disputed the report, because his wife’s death certificate had recorded her cause of death as a blockage in the lungs, heart failure and clots.
He said he had demanded that the hospital open an investigation into her death, and they confirmed they would do so.
But now, nearly two months later, Al-Himaidi has been unable to find out any more information about his wife’s death.
Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) has not provided him with an update on its investigation, and has also not responded to repeated requests from Doha News for comment on the case.
Al-Himaidi also filed a police report after his wife’s death, but has not been able to establish how that investigation is progressing.
Similarly, his demands to exhume his wife’s body and conduct an autopsy have gone unanswered, he said.
He told Al Raya that he is angry about the “utter silence” his requests are apparently being met with:
“Are we now all threatened with death in this fashion because of negligence and lack of professionalism and skill without anyone doing anything, with utter silence?
I am waiting for my questions to be answered. I will not stop pursuing my wife’s right. I will not give up.”
In response to Al-Himaidi’s story, hundreds of people have tweeted their support of him and demanded that authorities give him answers.
Translation: The first person that should have dutifully extended her condolences should have been you, Minister of Health. Unfortunately, this did not happen. There’s no sense of responsibility or an understanding of the magnitude of the crisis. This in itself is catastrophic.
— MBK #غزه (@ALATTIYAH_) July 4, 2016
Translation: We’re still awaiting the results of the investigation in the death of Shorooq Al-Sulaiti. We won’t suffice with that. Those negligent should be severely punished.
Others criticized the lack of transparency about this case, relative to other issues such as delays in infrastructure projects, the embezzlement of public funds and financial misconduct at ministries.
In this cartoon, all three of those cases are marked “closed” with a yellow stamp. But that stamp is crumpled up and flung to the side of the red file that states, “investigating the cause of death of a female citizen during labor.”
— سعد المهندي (@S3d_78) July 13, 2016
Amid Al-Himaidi’s search for answers, his responsibilities as a father continue unabated.
Despite the dramatic circumstances of his birth, Al-Sulaiti’s son survived, and is now being cared for by his father, with the help of his four-year-old sister and other relatives.
UPDATE: The Ministry of Public Health has responded to calls for answers with this update.