Distraught Kota Kinabalu health worker Gilbert Marcellinus Liwaji (pic),
46, who lost his wife Irin @ Irene Salain, 40, and unborn child at
the Likas Womenís and Childrenís Hospital under tragic circumstances
a day before the new year is crying foul and wants justice for his
family in memory of "the light of our lives".
"We have advised him to lodge a police report to help kick start the
process into motion since the hospital authorities have not been
forthcoming on the double tragedy which hit him and his family,"
said Sapp (Sabah Progressive Party) information chief Chong
Pit Fah who approached Malaysiakini with details of the
Chong also help put out a press release to the media. "We suspect
criminal negligence by the health authorities," he said.
The cause of death of mother and child, nine days overdue at the
time of admission but allegedly not attended to with any great sense
of urgency by the Likas hospital authorities, has been listed in the
death certificate as "Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE) with DIVC
(Disseminated Intravascular Coagulopathy) at 12.10am on Dec 30.
The cause is apparently a rare obstetric emergency, according to
doctors in the know.
anxious moments began when Irin (pic) was referred to the
Likas Hospital on Dec 26 by the Klinik Desa in Putatan, Kota
Kinabalu, where she had been going for her regular pre-natal
check-ups, sometimes accompanied by Gilbert who is attached to the
Luyang Health Clinic.
"We want to know exactly what the hospital authorities did for my
wife between Dec 26 and Dec 30 when she passed away. We understand
the baby died several hours earlier," said Gilbert at his residence
yesterday in Kampung Matambai, Kepayan, a suburb of Kota Kinabalu.
"The hospital authorities never discussed anything with us or told
us what they were doing for Irin. They knew she was nine days
overdue but yet they kept us in the dark and did not seem to do
'No staff around at that time'
"They waited for her to deliver on her own. They certified both
mother and baby healthy despite she being overdue. She seemed
healthy and normal. Now, sheís gone just like that. We canít take
Gilbert has four other children with Irin: Aaron, aged 20, Audrey,
19, Ayrton, 17, and Audry, 14.
The end for Irin, a long-serving staff of Sports Toto, apparently
came rather dramatically.
aunt, Maizin (pic), who was the last family member to speak
to her niece before she died, reported that she (Irin) was in some
sort of distress when she spoke to her at 8.30pm on Dec 29.
"As we were speaking, she told me that her pains had come again. I
told her to look around for the bell so that she can ask for help.
But she could not find one. There were no staff around at that time.
"Suddenly, she gave a loud yell as if in pain and then the line went
dead. I didnít suspect anything was amiss," said Maizin.
"Gilbert, according to her, was somewhere in the corridor at that
time but actually we learnt later that he had gone home early that
day. She had also experienced pains earlier at 4pm but again there
was no one to attend to her at that time, according to her."
Evidently, the recurrent pains were a sign that "something was going
seriously wrong" but went unheeded, recalled Maizin in hindsight.
Likas hospital authorities were not immediately available for
comment on the tragic deaths.
Likas hospital, formerly the Sabah Medical Centre which was bought
by the Health Ministry, has been under pressure along with private
hospitals like the new Sabah Medical Centre, the Damai Specialist
Centre and various government hospitals outside Kota Kinabalu ever
since the Queen Elizabeth General Hospital in the city was declared
unsafe and shut down late last year.
senior obstetrician and gynaecologist in Kota Kinabalu, contacted by
Malaysiakini earlier today, explained that nothing really
can be done if the cause of death was as listed and that questions
could be raised over how long the patient was overdue since "most
women who are due get their dates wrong unless an ultrasound has
(Irin had an ultrasound done at a private clinic, according to Chong
Pit Fah, when contacted later by telephone.)
Issue is one of case management
"Itís like someone suddenly dying of a massive heart attack or
dying on the spot in an accident," said the obstetrician and
gynaecologist who has been in private practice for many years and
spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The issue really comes down to one of case management. Thatís where
we should look first rather than immediately look for evidence of
criminal negligence. However, I am not ruling out criminal
negligence or even sheer incompetence."
According to the obstetrician and gynaecologist, "the rule of thumb"
is that the older the mother, the less days are allowed for her
being overdue despite even getting a clean bill of health.
"In this case, perhaps they should have done a caesarean section
within five days rather than wait for the complications to arise
later," said the obstetrician and gynaecologist.
"Of course, there are cases of even younger mothers (a fifth of
older deaths) suffering Amniotic Fluid Embolism with DIVC. But the
older Ė more than 35 years old - the mother, the higher the risk
(five times younger mothers) and vice versa.
"Perhaps to satisfy the bereaving family, the hospital authorities
should explain properly to them and disclose all aspects of the
"But I can understand them going public with their tragedy since
the hospital authorities have apparently told them very little to
ease their sorrow."