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‘They said our babies died’ — Victims’ mothers

The mothers, who fell victims to the baby harvesting scandal involving some health officers including at least two medical doctors, have been sharing their harrowing experience of being told their babies died, when indeed the tots are alive.

The modus operandi of the unscrupulous medical professionals has always been to tell the mothers that their babies died during delivery; then they keep the babies to sell them later on.

All the affected mothers have been telling investigators of the joint Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and Ghana Medical and Dental Council (MDC) is that they did not know that their babies were alive.

The women, according to EOCO sources, were made to believe that their babies had died soon after delivery.

A mother, according to EOCO source, said she gave birth through a Caesarean Section (CS), while another said she was induced to deliver.

The babies involved were two boys who are currently three months old and a month old although the unscrupulous doctors told the mothers they died, so they also gave up.

One of the mothers involved is believed to be a 17-year-old Senior High School form two student.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The source disclosed that the 17-year-old mother (named withheld) reported at Bethlehem Maternity at Santoe, a suburb of Kpone Katamanso, some three months ago, where suspect Dede Gifty Anikpi, a traditional birth attendant, works, for an abortion.

Upon examination, the source indicated that Ms. Anikpi allegedly discovered that the teenager’s pregnancy was in an advanced stage and referred the victim to Susan Clinic in Accra, which is the private clinic of Dr. Hope Mensah Quarshie, one of the medical professionals being investigated.

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At Susan Clinic, Dr. Quarshie reportedly told the victim that since the pregnancy had advanced, he would take care of the teenager and make sure she delivers safe, after which the baby would be handed over to Social Welfare.

“The victim delivered on October 30, 2020 through a caesarean section but was told that the baby had died and was discharged later,” the EOCO source said.

Second Victim

The second mother reported at the Dangbe Community Hospital owned by Dr. Noah Kofi Lartey, another medical professional under investigation, for an abortion.

The source said since the pregnancy was also advanced, the mother was induced to deliver the baby boy prematurely.

“The baby was then taken to the Tema General Hospital where he was put in incubation until it was later sold,” the EOCO source said, adding “in each case, the suspects told the mothers that the babies died during delivery but our investigations were showing the suspects had been tricking the mothers to get the babies and sold them.”

Initial Arrests

On January 20, the EOCO and the MDC announced at a joint news conference that they had been able to smash a baby harvesting syndicate and said two medical doctors, four nurses and four others are being investigated for the illegal activity.

They identified the doctors as Dr. Quarshie of the 37 Military Hospital in Accra and Dr. Lartey of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge, Accra.

The nurses were also identified as Sylvia Awuseh, John Adorey Effie, Angela Ametepe and Stella Deli.

Similarly, Leonard Agbley and Doris Badu, both social workers, as well as Ms. Anikpi were arrested.

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A lady called Nancy Obaa Yaa, believed to be a mother of one of the babies, was also in trouble and was also picked up late last year.

Two of the babies, whose ‘harvesting’ triggered the EOCO and MDC investigation, are currently safe in the custody of the authorities.

More Petitions

Two weeks after the arrest of 11 persons involved in the scandal, three people petitioned the EOCO to look into circumstances that led to the missing of their babies.

The claimants filed different petitions to the EOCO from the Susan Clinic at Laterbiokoshie, Accra where one of the medical doctors of the alleged syndicate operated from, whilst the other facilities where the babies were alleged to have vanished were mentioned as Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, aka Ridge Hospital.

They all claimed that the babies were well but within a few hours in each case, they were respectively told the babies had died even though, they were all not allowed to see the ‘bodies.’

The Executive Director in charge of the Economic and Organised Crime Office, COP (RDT) Frank Adu Poku, when contacted, confirmed the petitions and said EOCO had commenced investigations into all the complaints.

In the case of the Susan Clinic, the EOCO Boss said the petitioner claimed she delivered the baby girl at the clinic in 2016.

According to her, the baby was very well when it was delivered, and was taken from the labour ward to the main ward.

“She alleged that an hour later, she was told by the hospital authorities that the baby had died,” the EOCO Boss said, adding “she claims her husband later came to request for the dead body for burial but they were refused and were only told the body had already been buried.”

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Kayayie Story

In the case of the second petitioner, the EOCO Boss said that she was a head porter, known in local parlance as Kayayie, and she also delivered at Korle- Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on May 6, 2018.

“Upon delivering she said, she was charged GH¢250 and since she did not have the money, she left the baby and went home to inform her family,” the EOCO Boss quoted the petitioner as saying.

He said the petitioner said, when she went back to the hospital after three days to pay the money, she was told the baby had died but was never given the body or shown where it was buried.

Abandoned Baby

COP (Rtd) Adu-Poku continued that the third petitioner claimed the baby was abandoned by its mother at a cemetery at Ogbojo in Accra on December 12, 2020.

The baby was then handed over to officials of the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit for investigations.

The Executive Director of EOCO said since the baby was seven months and looked premature, it was sent to Ridge Hospital for further treatment and proper care.

“Days, later, the petitioner claimed hospital authorities claimed the child had died even though they believed the story could not be true,” he said.

The EOCO Boss said being an investigative body with functions of investigating crimes including human trafficking, they would do everything possible to unravel the circumstances relating to the respective cases.

—Daily Guide