A tale of tears, helplessness in Lagos-owned teaching hospital
Inside the wards of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, the fate of three young Nigerians is hanging in the balance.
The trio, though dying of chronic illnesses, may get back on their feet if help and adequate care come their way quickly.
A visit to the wards where Azizat Oluwalambe, Gift Ochuko and Olufemi Adesoji are lying critically ill, tells of human suffering and helplessness of poor Nigerians even in a public facility.
Going to LASUTH, a government-owned institution, has not helped their plight either. To their dismay, they had been asked to pay for everything without which they cannot be attended to.
Notwithstanding the state government’s healthcare policy to care for the indigents, these patients have discovered that nothing is actually free in LASUTH, not even the doctors’ hand glove.
Azizat Oluwalambe, 13-year-old student of St. Paul Comprehensive College, Ketu, was diagnosed of end-stage kidney failure and currently in need of renal transplant.
She was on holiday last December at her parents’ residence on Demuren Street, Ketu, when she noticed her swollen arms, legs and later, swollen face.
It was indeed the beginning of a medical long haul that has put her life at stake.
From Mascara Primary Health Centre (PHC) Oluwalambe was referred for dialysis at the Gbagada General Hospital, which could not help due to industrial action during the period. Continuous search for hospital with dialysis machine brought her to LASUTH.
While she has remained on dialysis till date, the rather expensive treatment option is only a palliative measure pending when Oluwalambe, last-born of a family of seven, will get financial support for kidney transplant.
Lying in her bed at the BT Ward Medical, LASUTH, Oluwalambe’s major concern is the Junior West African Certificate Examination (WAEC) due to start this month.
Though her friends have been supportive bringing in some books to her hospital bed, her seat may just be empty when the examination starts.
Her brilliant mind and enthusiasm for life have not gone away despite complications of diabetes and persistent fatigue she is currently struggling with.
Oluwalambe told The Guardian that even as her sickness had rendered her father’s paint retailing business comatose and mother’s provision selling business crippled, she is hopeful that good Samaritans would someday come to her aid.
“I want to go back to school,” she pleaded.
Another patient in the hospital is Gift Ochuko. The 19-year-old orphan occupies one of the beds in the Medical Emergency Ward, also in LASUTH, where she had been diagnosed to be suffering from Type I diabetes mellitus, which has been grossly mismanaged due to malnutrition. According to Ochuko, she left Delta at the age of 11 in search of greener pasture in Lagos. She said she has been taking insulin – a medical requirement for all Type I diabetic patients born with the condition.
Having stayed with her aunt, Tina Nwayima, resident in Shasha area of Lagos, who has been injecting her with the insulin, she eventually left there to be living with her boyfriend, Ismaila Akanni, on number 2, Omoojule street, Ishaga, Lagos and working in a paper factory to fend for herself.
According to experts, administration of insulin is essential for survival among people with Type I diabetes. Insulin therapy must be continued indefinitely but where the patient, like Ochuko does not have the means, there is bigger health risk with insulin shortage.
Apparently suffering from insulin inadequacies, Ochuko has been going round hospitals, even as Akanni (her boyfriend) was getting fed up with paying the bills. But with the help of Akanni, Ochuko was brought to LASUTH and abandoned to her fate.
Without proper care, Ochuko is at risk of long-term complications that might include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, foot ulcers and damage to the eyes.
The other pathetic case is that of Olufemi Adesoji, who was born with sickle cell disease that has been fairly well managed until he came down with chronic kidney disease.
Puffy all over, sight of the 26-year-old at the Male Medical Ward, LASUTH was indeed disturbing. He was already overdue for another dialysis at a cost, which his single mother could not raise.
It was gathered that Adesoji requires about six courses of dialysis to give his kidneys recovery chances. The cost was estimated to be about N300,000.
Adesoji, his mother and four siblings had known no other home than Kano, until May 2014, when their Bayero University Kano (BUK) neighborhood was bombed by Boko Haram.
The family, which had earlier been abandoned by their father, was forced to migrate to Lagos and at the mercy of a family friend in Agege.
The mother, Rachael Adesoji, 48, recalled that her son (first born) was born with sickle cell, but has only had two episodes of crisis requiring blood transfusion until kidney problem sets in Lagos.
Rachel, in tears, told The Guardian that her son’s swollen face was first noticed last November at Ifako-Ijaye General Hospital, where, according to her, was told that it was kidney problem. Adesoji has since April 20, been admitted in LASUTH. With support coming from the Social Welfare Officers working in the hospital, he was opportuned to undergo dialysis about two weeks ago.
The challenge, as at Monday, is where the next support will come from. “I want Nigerians to help my son with the needed dialysis,” the helpless woman pleaded passionately.
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