The Spanish surgeon who performed liposuction operation that led to the death of former first lady, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo, has been jailed for one year for involuntary homicide by a tribunal in Malaga, Spain.
The tribunal has also suspended the doctor identified simply as AMM from practising medicine for three years, stating that “he lacked a serious commitment and carefulness required by his profession”.
The doctor and his insurers were equally told to indemnify the son of the deceased to the tune of €120,000.
At a trial held in July, the prosecutor had wanted a sentence of two years in prison and ban from exercising his profession for five years.
Stella Obasanjo, 59, was recovering from a routine liposuction at the Molding Clinic in the posh resort of Marbella, when her condition deteriorated suddenly a few days later.
She fell unconscious and the doctors could not revive her.
At the trial, the doctor had denied responsibility, asserting that the intervention and post-operative had been carried out “perfectly normal” and that the age of the patient, who suffered from hypertension and mild asthma, posed no danger to the exercise.
The court ruled instead that the process used to extract fat from the patient had been performed by mistake in her abdominal cavity, which had caused five incisions in the liver and colon of the patient.
The blood loss and internal injuries “could have been handled without problems” if they had been detected in time, the court noted.
During the trial, a Spanish forensic scientist declared that her death was avoidable had suitable treatment been administered during the fateful liposuction.
He was addressing a Spanish court conducting a trial on the death of the first lady in the country in 2005.
The police physician pointed out that the patient had perforations in her liver and abdomen.
According to him, the quantity of liquids administered on her after an intervention was "insufficient" and there were symptoms of a shock.
The expert indicated that the evidence of shock could have been detected "hours earlier" and with a blood test and an ultrasound scan it would have been possible for the doctor to detect the symptoms of a shock.
He said the doctor could have detected these complications approximately 10 hours before her death.
His opinion was shared by the forensic scientist brought in to serve as an expert witness.
On the contrary, four other experts told the court a blood test could not have contributed much and insisted that the symptoms were habitual and that the progression was "normal" until the night of the day before the death.
Nevertheless, one of the experts recognised that “a transfer at this hour could have led to an improvement of the patient’s health”.
He pointed out that the blood loss (half a litre of blood) does not produce a hemorrhagic shock.
On the other hand, one of the doctors who attended to the patient said while being moved to another clinic, he discovered that the woman became unconscious, had no pulse and at this moment the accused and he tried to revive her and “I observed a blinking”.
The district attorney maintained his initial accusation of a crime of imprudent murder, for which it requests the accused who is a specialist in plastic and aesthetic surgery to be imprisoned for two years and given five years disqualification for the death of Stella who came to the clinic of Marbella for abdomen reduction on October 20, 2005.
For the public prosecutor, the accused committed "a heap of negligence", since "it was not diagnosed appropriately".
The transfer of the patient to another hospital was done late. This indicated that although he did not have intention of causing the incisions in the vital organs neither did he wish her to become "unconscious", this does not suppose that there is minor gravity in the facts.
He said that the accused took "decisions completely opposite to those that he would have taken and, there was lack of follow up”.
According to him, the accused displayed lack of analytical strength, apathy and lack of interest for the patient.
The defender asked for the acquittal of the accused and emphasised the declarations of the doctor’s co-workers in the clinic who said they made sure some intervention took place in a normal way.
The doctor maintained that in spite of the age of the woman (59) and some occasional asthma, the risk for this type of interventions was catalogued as “I set sail”. Also, it indicated that the operation, which lasted three hours, developed "just as others that it had done until this baneful day and those that I have done later".
On July 10, the state criminal prosecution case against a plastic surgeon from the Molding Clinic in Marbella started.
At the court, the accused claimed that there was absolutely no evidence of any complications during the procedure nor during the post-op, and described how everything went normally until the early hours of the day after the operation.
Stella, the wife of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, died on October 23, 2005.
She was born in November 23, 1945. Born Stella Abebe, she met her husband when he was a military officer.
She became famous not only for being the first lady but also for being a political activist in her own right, supporting such causes as women's liberation and youths as leaders of tomorrow.
Stella established a non-governmental organisation, Child Care Trust, to take care of the underprivileged, the motherless and physically and mentally retarded children, with a focus on girls.
According to her, these groups of underprivileged children are usually neglected and they were often treated as if they were useless and seen as an affliction on their parents.
The former first lady was once quoted as saying: “Many of the underprivileged children if given the right care and love are capable of doing many positive things. They want to be appreciated. They do not see themselves as different from any other person.”
She died weeks to her 60th birthday, after experiencing complications in a routine cosmetic surgery.
The news came on the same day a Nigerian plane carrying 117 passengers and crew crashed, leaving no survivors.