Headline — 17 January 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
Woman awarded $250,000 in malpractice judgment

A doctor erroneously told her that her womb was cancerous and removed it without her consent

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 15, 2018– It happens far too frequently at Belize’s public health facilities that doctors botch procedures and cause unnecessary and untold suffering, but in the majority of cases, nothing is done to make amends, as the victims of medical malpractice almost never come forward or take legal action.

That standard approach has not been the case with a Dangriga female police officer, on whom a doctor at the Western Regional Hospital conducted surgery, during which he removed parts of her reproductive organs without her permission; she sued the doctor and the hospital in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Today, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Young awarded Jenny Bonilla, 22, $250,000 in settlement of her medical malpractice lawsuit.

In an exclusive interview with Amandala, Bonilla explained what happened to her at the hands of the doctor who performed the procedures at the Western Regional Hospital.

“Early in 2016, I had a lobotomy done to me; at least that’s what I signed for. In the process of the surgery, the doctor, without my consent, did a total hysterectomy and that’s what I sued for, a malpractice,” Bonilla revealed.

Bonilla explained, “One of my ovaries and my uterus was removed. So I sued the Attorney General’s office, since the procedure was done at a public hospital, the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan. The doctor that I sued was Dr. Landerio, a gynecologist who attended to me.”

Bonilla said that she has been going to court for over a year and several months, and that Dr. Landerio was defended by Crown Counsel Agassi Finnegan from the Solicitor General’s office.

 “At the time when the surgery took place, I was only 20 years old,” Bonilla said, “and I never had a child in my life, and they never took that into consideration.”

“How did you know that the doctor had performed a wrong procedure on you?” Amandala asked Bonilla.

She explained, “I was originally at the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga when I had a lot of pain. So I went to the hospital [Western Regional Hospital] and they told me that I had an ovarian mask. That is a lump-like fat that grows on your ovaries. That is what the diagnostic of the ultrasounds said in Dangriga. When I was transferred to the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, they told me that they had to do an exploratory surgery to see what was wrong with me, because they were unable to determine what was wrong with me.

“Based on the ultrasound, he [Dr. Landero] still was not sure. So I agreed for him to just open me to check what was wrong with me. I expressed to the doctor that I am very young and I want to have children. I told him that I believe in having a family because I am a very family-oriented person. After I expressed this to the doctor, he told me not to worry, because he would tell me if he need to do further procedures.”

She further recounted, “I went into the surgery and when I came out the doctor came to the bed that I was in and told me that he had to remove my womb. Then I started to cry, and told him that was not what I wanted. I told him that I wanted to have children. He kept avoiding me, so I knew that something was wrong, because he kept avoiding me and not answering my questions. He instead sent a psychological nurse to speak to me. I didn’t want to see her either. They didn’t have bed space in Belmopan, so they transferred me back to Dangriga, not even thinking about the bumpy conditions of the road. I had a lot of issues going back to Dangriga.”

Bonilla said that when she got back to Dangriga, she spoke to the gynecologist who was originally going to take her case.

“The gynecologist in Dangriga started feeding on the fact that they had done something wrong to me in Belmopan. Several weeks later, I got a text from this person, who is a nurse in Belmopan. He basically told me that he was a part of the surgery team that operated on me and that I need to come for my womb, because the doctor was trying to remove it from the hospital,” she said.

Bonilla said she went to the hospital and removed the womb, and she also spoke to several persons at the hospital, and, she said, “they advised me to take legal action, because I was having a lot of mental breakdowns. I was sad. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a very depressive state. They advised me to speak to Mr. Chebat, because he had already taken cases like mine.”

Bonilla said that she took her womb to be tested at Belize Health Care Partners and they sent it to be tested in Miami, because the doctor had said that the reason he removed her womb was because it was cancerous. The lab result which came back from Miami, however, indicated that there was no cancer.

Bonilla said that Dr. Navaratte, who had treated her since the removal of her womb, said that the doctor who performed surgery on her did not have to remove her womb.

A gynecologist from the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital testified in court as an expert witness and was critical of the doctor who had performed the wrong procedure, Bonilla said.

Bonilla said the KHMH gynecologist testified that she would experience early menopause, and that she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by psychologist Amy Jex.

Bonilla explained that she was very embarrassed that she would not be able to have children. She said that the doctor dared her to sue him, because he said he did not buy his degree. He said that he is an angel from heaven and if it were not for him, she would have been dead.

“You shouldn’t stay and suffer in silence. If I did not sue him, he would have been doing things to other people,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla added that she would continue her job as a police officer. “I love the job I do and plan to stay in the Police Department until I retire. I am a community-spirited police officer,” she said.

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