The fate of 124 corpses abandoned at the morgue of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, is about to be sealed through a mass burial except their families claim the bodies early enough. Of the number, 99 were kids – aged 0 to 10 years, treasured in birth and childhood, but left to rot away in the mortuary after death.
The sad reality is the lot of the dead children and 29 adult corpses whose families have refused to claim them for burial. Some have spent 18 months in the mortuary without any relations bothering about what had become of the remains.
Rather than be given permanent resting places six feet below the earth, the corpses daily constitute a burden to the facility that is supposed to be their temporary holding bay.
Of late, the pressing situation prompted the hospital management to decide on a mass burial for them.
The management stated in a newspaper advertisement tagged ‘Unclaimed bodies from October 2019 to August 2020,’ published on June 24, 2021, stated, “This is to inform members of the public whose deceased relatives were deposited in the mortuary of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital to come forward with necessary proof to collect the bodies within four weeks of this publication.”
The notice signed by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Omolola Fakeye, warned that the hospital would liaise with the appropriate government authorities immediately after the deadline to conduct mass burial for the unclaimed bodies “without further recourse to the families or relatives,” urging the concerned relations to “take note.”
“Within the time in question, we have 29 unclaimed bodies of adults. We also have unclaimed 99 corpses of children – those between ages 0 and 10 years,” a consultant pathologist at have LUTH’s Anatomical and Molecular Pathology Department, Dr Martins Momoh, told Saturday PUNCH.
No mortuary bills, yet corpses unclaimed
The mortuary charges fees for corpses of adults, but retrieving children’s bodies is at no cost to the parents. Despite the waiver, remains of babies keep piling up as families fail to show up.
The bodies, most of which Momoh said were dead newborns, belonged to women referred to LUTH as a result of complications at traditional birth places.
Oftentimes, those patients were not booked at the hospital, making it difficult for them to be traced in the event that the babies died, the consultant said.“At times, both the mother and the child died. Mainly, the children’s corpses were products of unregistered pregnant women who gave birth to babies that were in a bad state and they (the babies) gave up. Many times, they (mothers) just abandoned the children in the morgue,” he said. (Punch)