Pregnant China student wrongly diagnosed with kidney disease dies, was carrying stillborn child

A 23-year-old university student who died after being misdiagnosed with kidney disease, was actually seven months pregnant and carrying a stillborn child.

Originally from Dengzhou, Nanyang, in Henan province, central China, the woman, given the pseudonym Lili, was a second-year student returning to her hometown to be with her parents for the Lunar New Year.

Her mother and father noticed that their usually slim daughter had gained a significant amount of weight and was struggling with shortness of breath during everyday chores.

When she complained of abdominal pain, Lili’s father, surnamed Pang, took her to Dengzhou People’s Hospital.

Medical records show that Lili was diagnosed with kidney disease and received extensive treatment that included hormone therapy and medication to treat an infection.

The young woman had returned home from university when her parents noticed she had gained weight. Photo: Shutterstock

However, her condition deteriorated, and on February 11, after experiencing severe breathing difficulties and losing consciousness, she was urgently transferred to Nanyang First People’s Hospital.

There, her families were aghast when Lili was found to be seven months pregnant with her baby no longer alive inside her.

“The patient’s abdomen was distended, resembling late pregnancy, and an ultrasound suggested pregnancy,” it stated in her medical records.

There was also a note that read: “The family denied the pregnancy.”

The diagnosis was updated to pregnancy, complicated by heart disease and intrauterine fetal death at 31 weeks.

She was quickly moved to Nanyang Central Hospital, where an emergency caesarean section was performed to remove the fetus.

She remained in a coma after the surgery and passed away on February 20.

Her father has attributed her death to the initial misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment at Dengzhou People’s Hospital.

“My daughter was misdiagnosed with kidney disease and mistreated with large amounts of hormone therapy. Despite her concealing the pregnancy, shouldn’t the hospital have been able to detect it?” Pang said.

He subsequently requested a medical malpractice evaluation, but it stalled due to the hospital’s refusal to submit necessary documents.

On June 1, amid the controversy, the Dengzhou Health Commission released the results of their investigation, attributing responsibility to both the hospital and the family.

“The incident was initially believed to be a medical accident caused by both the patient’s failure to truthfully disclose her condition and the medical staff’s misdiagnosis,” an announcement read.

“Dengzhou’s Discipline Inspection, Public Security, and Health Departments are conducting further investigations into the incident to legally hold the relevant personnel accountable,” it stated.

The incident, reported Benliu News, has ignited a storm of public discussion.

Many blamed the hospital.

An investigation is underway to find out who is ultimately to blame for the tragedy. Photo: Shutterstock

Others criticised the cultural taboo of premarital pregnancy, suggesting that the family’s denial of Lili’s condition to “save face” had endangered her life.

“Was denying the pregnancy more important than her life?” one person said.

“This is absurd. How could a seven-month pregnancy be mistaken for kidney disease? Or was she actually ill during the pregnancy and hid it, leading to the misdiagnosis? Both the patient and the doctors were confused, and where was the child’s father?” said another.

“I study medicine. Apart from the patient statements, basic tests like blood and urine HCG are essential. Clinically, some inexperienced women do not realise they’re pregnant.

“Doctors must always consider gynaecological factors in cases of abdominal pain. This is what we were taught at school,” an observer wrote.



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