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Sep 18, 2015

Family Claims Hospital Negligence in Maternal Death

Nolberta Sanchez

On Thursday, news broke that a mother of four from Big Falls had died at the K.H.M.H. after surgery at the Western Regional Hospital. Nolberta Sanchez was haemorrhaging profusely after she had given birth to a baby girl and had undergone a hysterectomy.  What should have been a happy time for family ended in the most tragic way. Her family believes that her death was caused by negligence. Duane Moody today revisits the story of Nolberta Sanchez. 


John Romero, Common-law Husband, Deceased
“Someone on the phone tells me, Mister Romero, we are sorry, she didn’t make it…she passed away. I feel speechless…I just stood there and there is nothing else I could have done.”


Duane Moody, Reporting
The Romero and Sanchez families remain heartbroken after their loved one lost her life at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, following a series of unfortunate events, which started at the Southern Regional Hospital.  Twenty-nine year old Nolberta Sanchez died just after three a.m. on St. George’s Caye Day after she reportedly bled to death.


John Romero

John Romero
“Sir what you are seeing here is a pool of blood in your wife’s abdomen. And I said you have to be kidding me. And he said no, this is a pool of blood that had settled in her stomach and he told me she has been bleeding for a long time. I asked, “Doc how is she doing? What’s happening?” and he told me I just removed three pints of blood from your wife’s abdomen and now I have stopped the bleeding. She was bleeding from the stomp after the removal of the womb. About fifteen minutes after that, she came out and that was the last time I saw her alive with all these instruments beeping around her, indicating that she was still alive.”


It is at the Western Regional Hospital that Nolberta initially went under the knife on September eighth after giving birth to a healthy seven-pound baby girl. A doctor performed a hysterectomy on the mother of four and, in the blink of an eye, the celebration of life turned into a horrific and tragic event – one, the family describes was the result of negligence.


John Romero
“The nurse came to me and told me Mister Romero the doctor says that the bleeding is not stopping and she then tells me that the doctor is already in the progress of removing her womb because it is the womb that is not stopping from bleed. And she brought a consent form for me to sign when the surgery was already in progress so I said fine. So I sign the form and the nurse went away.”


Alfonso Sanchez

Alfonso Sanchez, Brother of Deceased
“It was nerve-racking because I said, if they were moving her from Belmopan to Belize City, something was really wrong and that was when I said I am driving up now. I am leaving Punta Gorda and we are headed there. We decided to pick up my mom and her three kids, take them up to at least see their mother and we were assuring my mom that everything was okay. So we left Big Falls at eleven p.m. because we wanted to see her. We got to Belize at three-thirty that was like twenty minutes after she passed away. After I got that call from my brother in law saying that my only sister had passed away, there are absolutely no words to explain how I feel and certainly how my family feels. I feel it is just wrong.”


The allegation comes on the heels of scandalous and very disturbing incidents at the referral hospital.  Earlier this year, the medical facility was infested with rats in the pantry and storage room. In July, a nurse was bitten by a snake. And most recently, a newborn in an incubator was bitten by a huge rat in the neonatal unit of the hospital.


Rob Hirons

Rob Hirons, Owner, Big Falls Lodge
“I’m sure this is a completely unnecessary death and people should not be dying at child birth in a country like Belize any longer. In general in Belize, I think we just have to raise the standard of our healthcare all over.”


Alfonso Sanchez
“The baby is healthy, the process went well; the C-section went well how is it now that this came to this end? It is from my point of view…it takes someone with just common-sense to see that if you are losing blood, everything will begin to fall apart. Obviously, it seems that procedures were not followed. I mean doctors are there to help to save lives and obviously it seems to be a case of negligence.”


John Romero
“Can you believe at the Belmopan Hospital there is no ultrasound machine? If there was an ultrasound machine, this could have been detected the evening, a couple hours after that it was still bleeding. And even if there was no ultrasound machine, doctors are professionally trained.”

This is ten-day old Heidi Romero; she was born via a caesarean section, but she will never get to meet her mother or even feel her touch. For her other siblings – ages ten, four and one – their lives have been flipped upside down.  It’s an unthinkable task for John, who is now a single father.


John Romero
“It’s no longer mom, dad and the kids…it is me one now to look after these four kids. There’s not mom anymore.”


Heidi Romero

Duane Moody

“Are the kids aware of what happened?”


John Romero
“Yes, she understands, she knows that mom is no longer here. It is extremely difficult for me to explain because at this age, they need their mom so much.”


Big Falls in Toledo is now grappling with the loss of a wife, a daughter, a sister, a best friend….one of their own.


Catarina Choco

Catarina Choco, Friend of Deceased
“I miss Nolberta a lot. And I guess we all miss her because she is a humble person to work with. I’ve been working with Nolberto for a number of years, she started working here for over seven years, but I know her before then because we grew up in the same community. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that that happen. Till the time I believe it was when I visit her in her coffin.”


The family is seeking legal advice on what they claim is the wrongful maternal death of Nolberta due to negligence.


Alfonso Sanchez
“Certainly we are seeking advice. I mean nothing can bring her back. No compensation, no nothing. It is the kids that we need to answer to. It is the kids that will require answers in the coming years to come.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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