Three months ago six year-old Hasmik could be seen playing with her friends in Bayandour, the Shirak village in which she lives.
Today, she isn’t allowed to leave the house due to a simple tonsil operation that went terribly wrong. The young girl is too weak and frail to play with her friends.
Last November 28, Hasmik was taken to the Mother and Child Austrian Hospital in Gyumri to have her tonsils removed. The little girl remained in the operating theater for several hours and the doctors didn’t tell Hasmik’s relatives what had happened.
At 2pm, nearly four hours after Hasmik was admitted to surgery, a doctor came out, showed the relatives on of Hasmik’s removed tonsils and, in a serious tone, told them there was an issue that needed to be discussed.
Mrs. Hasmik Martirosyan, the girl’s grandmother, told Hetq that the surgeon in charge Yeranouhie Varagyan, explained that some of the anesthetic had gotten into the girl’s face and had caused swelling.
“She said that everything would be back to normal within the hour and that they were monitoring the child,” Mrs. Martirosyan said, adding that the doctors nevertheless seemed panicky and that additional medical equipment was being taken to the surgery unit.
Upon seeing the commotion, the relatives demanded to see Hasmik. It was only after raising a ruckus that the relatives were told that Hasmik was in very critical condition and that the hospital had called for experts from Yerevan.
Hasmik’s mother, Lianna Rafayelyan, describes what happened next.
“I entered the surgery and saw that the child’s head had expanded to three times its normal size. I approached, removed the smock, and saw that her entire body from the neck down was covered in bruises and swelling. It turned out that they had given her too much anesthetic. To undo the swelling, the doctors had stuck pins into the child’s body.”
The doctors told the family that the anesthetic overload had caused the girl’s brain cells to die.
Hasmik was then transferred to the Sourb Astvatzamayr Medical Center in Yerevan where she sunk into a coma for six days. The diagnosis on the medical chart accompanying Hasmik to Yerevan read that the patient had brain ischemia (a restriction in blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen and glucose needed for cellular metabolism)
For that entire week, doctors at the resuscitation until could only tell the girl’s relatives to pray.
When Hasmik awoke from her coma, she couldn’t move the left side of her body. Due to the swelling of the blood vessels, the capillaries in the child’s brain had burst and a blood clot formed.
When relatives confronted the surgeon, otolaryngologist Yeranouhie Varagyan, she shifted all responsibility to the anesthesiologist.
Varagyan also told Hetq the same story.
“The examination committee from Yerevan found that my surgery to remove the tonsils went without problem. You should direct your questions to the anesthesiologist because the equipment had broken down. I am amazed you even telephoned me because I operated without a drop of blood being spilled.”
Hetq also contacted the anesthesiologist, Asik Dalibaldyan, for his side of the story. At first, he said he would get back to us in a few hours because he would be attending a wedding. Hours later, he never answered our telephone calls.
The next day, Dalibaldyan answered our call. “I won’t comment over the phone. You’ll have to come to the hospital. How is it that three months after the surgery, when we took the girl home all fine and well, that a problem has now appeared?”
Dalibaldyan added that the director of the Mother and Child Austrian Hospital has allegedly invited all the doctors involved in Hasmik’s operation to a conference to ascertain what actually happened.
Suffice it to say that 6 year-old Hasmik Martirosyan entered the hospital for a 15 minute routine procedure to have her tonsils removed and wound up with brain ischemia.
Today, little Hasmik is taking an array of drugs and treatments to reverse the effects of the anesthetic overload that causes lapses in memory, mood swings, and less than full mobility of her left side. The girl’s leg has started to curve as a result and she now hears orthopedic shoes.
Hasmik’s mother notes that while Dalibaldyan, the anesthesiologist, called to say that he would pay for all the medicines, when she goes to pick them up she gets a rude welcome.
“The doctor’s wife tells me that they aren’t obliged to look after my girl till the end of time. But I don’t want that either. What I do want is that they return my girl to me, with a normal brain and memory. I want Hasmik back just like she was when I placed her in their hands. Who is going to answer for what happened to my child.”