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Hospital death in Samoa during power failure may be subject of lawsuit

The daughters of a man who is alleged to have died during a power failure while in the hospital are seeking legal advice on whether to sue the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Samoa.

The family of the man told Samoa Observer the hospital was irresponsible and as a result, they have lost a grandfather, father, brother and a loving man.

Samoa Observer reports that Reverend Deacon Uikirifi Auelua, of Fa’atoia, passed away at 12 p.m. on Saturday 23 June 2012 while he was admitted to the High Dependency Unit (HDU) at Moto’otua. Rev Auelua was taken to the hospital for an asthma attack.

His daughters, Christina Vili and Pata Silva, who reside in Las Vegas were by his side when he took his last breath. The sisters told Samoa Observer they are far from impressed with the services at the hospital.

They claim their father would have still been alive if it weren’t for the power failure. Furthermore, they also claim that the shortage of oxygen tanks at the hospital that day was the other reason why their father died.

General Manager of National Health Service, Leota Laki Sio told the Samoa Observer that they are investigating a death in relation to a power failure at the hospital.

Mrs. Vili told Samoa Observer said the hospital staff had failed them and their loving father. She pointed that her father was put on life support until he was transferred to the DHU. “My father was in a stable condition that day,” she said.

“Everything was normal before the power failure… if it wasn’t for that, my father would still be here today. “I’m deeply saddened, and what hurt us the most was that even when my father died that day, there was no one from the staff who came to comfort us.

They just sat there and looked at us. It shows that they don’t care about our loved ones and once we go in, there is no way out, that is it.”

Mrs. Vili has also questioned the hospital’s system and the efficiency of its back up plan for patients.

Prior to the death of Rev. Auelua, his daughters were planning to take their father to the United States for medical checkup. They said that they were trying to get him off the machine so that he could breathe on his own, enabling them to fly him over.

On the Saturday when the power was cut off, Mrs. Silva was at home. Her children called her to let her know that the power failed and so she rushed to the hospital.

Mrs. Silva said that when she got to the hospital, she could smell and see smoke from the generators.

“We were worried about our father and when I got there, the kids kept saying, “the power is out, the power is out”.

Her sister, Mrs. Vili said that even though the power failed and smoke was coming out of the generator, they didn’t leave their father’s side.

“That is because we loved him and even if the house got burnt down, we would’ve stayed there with him.”

According to Mrs. Vili, her father was using a back-up battery when the power failed. However, it died hours later before the power came back on. She said they had to use oxygen from tanks to keep her father breathing.

“When they brought in the tanks, they were empty,” said Mrs. Vili. “We could hear the guy saying that there was no air coming and they kept saying, “connect, and connect” but there was nothing.

My dad was suffocating at that time and we could see his leg lifting up.” When her father was confirmed dead, minutes later the power came back on, past 12 p.m.

“For almost five hours, the doctors hadn’t come around to check and assess my father to see if he was okay. It hurts us to know that they weren’t able to save his life and they also hadn’t comforted my family.”

The sisters are seeking legal advice on whether to sue the hospital.