“Doctor, the patient is ready” the nurse informed.
Roused from my reverie I hurriedly grabbed my stethoscope, hung it on my shoulders and hastened to the operation room.
The pungent smell of antiseptic immediately filled my nostrils as I entered the theater, making me feel nauseous instantly. My eyes took some time to adjust to the dim-lightedness of the room though after few seconds, I eventually could now make out the shape of the young girl who was lying prone on the operating table. She was deeply fast asleep due to the sleep injections she had been given earlier, her two legs were wide open, suspended in the air by stirrups. Picking up her file which lay beside table, I quickly scanned through it; she was a 21 year old college student, a Christian from Igbo descent. My eyes were drawn to the left side of the document where it was specified ‘previous abortions’, I was mildly surprised for she had ticked the box thrice!
After scrubbing, I dried my hands with a sterile towel. The scrub nurse came over to help me put on the surgical gown and gloves. After I was through, I motioned to the technician to turn on the super-bright operation lights. The light came on, instantly filled the whole room with warmth. Finally we can now proceed.
The assistant nurse came over and went on to run through the operation procedure with me
“She is twenty weeks pregnant, so it is a risky abortion procedure, the best method to use at this stage is the Dilation and Evacuation procedure” she advised. I nodded absent-mindedly as she rambled on. After she was through, my assistant positioned the lights properly, and then I began the operation.
The first task was to remove the Laminaria that had earlier been placed in the girl’s cervix to dilate it sufficiently for easy access. Then I motioned for the nine inches plastic 14-french suction catheter which the assistant nurse promptly handed over to me. I introduced the catheter into her cervix and instructed the circulation nurse to turn on the suction machine. I leaned back, observing clearly the pale yellow fluid coming through the catheter into the glass bottle on the suction machine.
“This pale yellow fluid is the amniotic fluid which virtually protects the baby in the womb” I lectured to the observing nurses who were nodding eagerly in acknowledgment. I started counting numbers to pass the time as we patiently waited for the amniotic fluid to drain completely into the suction machine. The machine stopped drainage as I reached number 76 (it always stopped at 76 or 75).
Without missing a beat, I quickly picked up the 13 inches, stainless steel Sopher clamp with 2 inches jaws/teeth. This was the part I hated most for now I have to use the Sopher clamp to tear the baby’s body into pieces……bit by bit. I inserted the Sopher clamp into her uterus, searching for the now dead baby. After few seconds, I grasped something soft, I squeezed hard on the clamp in order to sink its teeth into the baby’s body and then I pulled hard – really hard. I immediately felt something tear away, so I withdrew the clamp and out came the baby’s fully formed right leg, it was 4 inches long. I reached in again, felt something, clamped down, pulled and withdrew the clamp. This time, it was the right arm.
I continued with this process, tearing and bringing out the baby’s body parts bit by bit, meanwhile checking the surgical tray to make sure all the body parts were complete; the arms, legs, lung, intestines heart, everything was complete…………. except the skull.
Turning to the nurses I explained, “This is the toughest part of this type of abortion procedure, you have to be really careful while extracting the skull for any mistake can cause serious and severe damages to the patient” they nodded, making mental notes of the lessons.
Swallowing hard, I gently reached inside the uterus and sought for the baby’s skull. This time around it felt larger and thicker than the previous parts I had extracted. I applied pressure on the clamp, crushing down on it, a pure white gelatinous material instantly issued from the girl’s cervix. I heaved a sigh of relief for that gelatinous material was the baby’s brains……finally I had gotten the skull. I then carefully retrieved the clamp; a tiny little face stared back at me in anguish. I counted the body parts again and this time they were complete. The assistant nurse packed them inside a black polythene bag and proceeded to dispose it outside in the trash can.