The reports triggered telephone calls from strangers as far as Germany and Australia to the Boodoo family in rural St Mary’s Village, Carapichaima, to express their sympathy. Speaking to Sunday Newsday, Chrystal’s mother, Joyce, 62, said that a caller from Australia saw the news clip on Fox News and enquired how Chrystal died at San Fernando General Hospital. The 29- year-old mother’s death hogged local newspaper headlines when it was revealed that an autopsy conducted on the body showed that two arteries in the womb were severed and not ligated (stitched).
Yesterday, forensic pathologist professor Hubert Daisley confirmed to Sunday Newsday that when he performed the autopsy on Chrystal, two arteries were in fact shown to have not been ligated. “But I’ll rather not make any comment on the autopsy. Everyone was there, including the doctors who did the surgery and they all saw. There were a number of persons and Dr Jehan Ali who was there, told you what he saw,” Daisley said.
Chrystal’s mother Joyce, said that the issue about her daughter’s death made international news when she received a telephone call at her home, from a person in Australia. The caller told her that he had checked an online directory and called the home of another family in Trinidad with the surname Boodoo. “He told me that his first call was the home of another Boodoo in Central,” Joyce said, “then another person from Germany called.”
Chrystal’s elder sister, Nisha, said that neighbours told them that news about their daughter’s death was carried on CNN and Fox News last Thursday. Nisha said that those reports are on online newspapers as well in which it referred to the doctors’ suspension as unprecedented in the medical fraternity. The country’s health care system also came in for bashing in the international television reports, Nisha said.
The media blitz on the death and events that followed, have kept the Boodoos’ downstairs home in Carapichaima abuzz with relatives, neighbours, friends, curious passersby and non-stop telephone calls. “We should be grieving...yes, but every day is something new on the issue. And it all over the world now. We haven’t had a quiet moment yet,” mom Joyce said. The fourth of five children, Chrystal was 22 when she married Lorne Ramsoomair, 45, from Couva. She had attended Couva Junior Secondary school and worked in stores and a video club. Her other sisters and brothers are Nisha, Niala, Shiva and Nathaniel. Chrystal, Nisha said, was a simple girl who just wanted to become a housewife and a devoted mother. Her first two children were delivered via C-section and when she became pregnant with the third, she knew it would be her last child. It cost her life.
Chrystal’s mom Joyce muses over her own pregnancy challenge 17 years ago when at 45, she became pregnant with her last child, Nathaniel.
The 62-year-old mother made the boast to Sunday Newsday that it is the “strong blood” of the Bodoos that had enabled her to give birth at 45. “So how come my child could die from bleeding?” she asked
The principal issues for the investigative committee are: Was Chrystal Ramsoomair a high-risk pregnant mother, having regard to her two previous C-sections?
The answer to that question will determine how the committee treats with a November 4, 2009 directive from the Ministry of Health which instructed that all high-risk Caesarean sections must have a registrar/consultant in attendance. A doctor who was a House Officer, but who acted as registrar, performed Chrystal’s caesarean section in which she gave birth to a girl - Danielle.
In which of the operation was the arteries severed? Was it during the hysterectomy to stop the bleeding which was performed by a consultant? Was Chrystal, after the C-section, properly monitored on the ward by nurses post surgery in accordance with protocol directive, resulting in undetected bleeding and unconsciousness?
Another intriguing factor is nursing home gynaecologist Dr Jehan Ali’s intervention. As Chrystal’s private gynaecologist, did Ali had any locus standi in a public hospital in the context of him pleading with doctors to allow him to assist in the second operation (hysterectomy) to stop the bleeding, or in the least, supervise it? Ali, a former head of the said hospital’s Ob and Gyn for 21 years, has gone on record as saying that he got no response from Dr Anand Chatoorgoon when he asked to assist the patient.
But Chatoorgoon, speaking to Sunday Newsday, disputed that and said he told Ali that he would allow him to go into the theatre. Chatoorgoon said, however, that he could not instruct the consultant to allow Ali into the theatre. Doctors whom Sunday Newsday spoke to, said there has never been any life-threatening medical situation locally, in which the “human” element overrides rules and procedures.
International medical journals have cited cases, however, in which the Medical Defence Union and Medical Protection Society have covered private doctors medico-legally, for intervening in life-and-death situations.
With respect to the international news coverage, the Latter Day Saints’ website has posted the story and the online International Discussions with the headline: “The Nightmares of Trinidad Public Hospitals.” In Guyana, the Stabroek News, highlighted the doctors’ suspension with the headline: “Five TT docs suspended over C-section death.”
Two other officials in the health care system fell victim following the doctors’ suspension - CEO Paula Chester-Cumberbatch whose dismissal an inter-ministerial team has been appointed to probe. Hospital medical director since 2009, Dr Anand Chatoorgoon has been unceremoniously removed from the chair effective next week Thursday.