Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN (3rd right) in a group photograph with the survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease – Dr Emenuo Kelechi (2nd left), Dr Ibeawuchi Morris (3rd left), Dr Fadipe Akinniyi (4th left), Mr. Dennis Akagha (3rd right) and Dr Adaora Igonoh (2nd right) during a visit to the Governor at the Lagos House, Ikeja
Five Nigerians who survived the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, EVD, in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria have recounted their ordeal in the hand of Ebola, saying it was close shave with death.
The five survivors, out of the nine which survived the deadly disease in the country were hosted by Governor Babatunde Fashola at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria on Thursday.
Each of the survivor recounted their ordeal and shared their testimonies of deliverance from the deadly disease and the grip of death.
A survivor and staff of the First Consultant Medical Centre, Dr. Morris Ibeawuchi said he was the first person to receive the late Patrick Sawyer, the index case, when he was rushed to the hospital, saying it was like a joke as he did not know what came upon him that day.
“It was unlike me, I was so reluctant to attend to him. But I was compelled by my colleagues to attend to him. When I got there, I was just talking to him. It was very unlike me. Being a doctor, you must examine your patient. After due examination, I asked him some questions. I asked him why he was at First Consultant. He lied to me that he was in a conference and felt so weak.
“As a result, people now rushed him to First Consultant not knowing that he collapsed at the airport. On that very day, the ECOWAS Protocol Officer was there and did not say anything. After sometime, I took his samples and sent it to the lab. I also informed Dr. Adadevoh (now of blessed memory). She told me to get back to her as soon as the result is out.
“When the result came out, everything was normal. But that night, the lever function test was not available. I told Dr. Adadevoh about the Malaria Parasite result, and she was so confused and shivering because the man came in with a temperature of 39.7. She said I should just admit him. We treated him. We commenced with the malaria treatment. The next morning, Dr. Adadevoh came around and we all went there.
“At that time, the liver function test was already out and the result was so terrible. That made us to become so concerned. After we went around, Dr. Adadevoh went for her daily round. It was at that point that one of the ECOWAS officers now came in and brought us information that Patrick Sawyer collapsed at the airport. After that, she asked whether I got the information. That was how the whole thing started. From there, we instituted barrier nursing technique,” he explained.
Ibeawuchi said Adadevoh tried as much as possible to get through to the Lagos State Ministry of Health as she was again, asked to take Sawyer’s sample, adding that since he had already had contact, he was the person that always took his samples.
“Before I went there, It took me hours. But I summoned courage to do my duties. So, I went there. When Sawyer was trying to explain, I asked him to hold his peace and that he should not tell me anything. After that, I took samples and dropped it at the blood unit. The next day, Dr. Adadevoh was so busy. She was just going from one place to the other, working hand-in-hand with the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
“She called me later in the evening and told me to be careful. She said she just got a call that the result of the test had features of Ebola Virus Disease. She warned me to be careful and that Sawyer should be treated as the case of Ebola, not even the suspected case of Ebola. We placed him under surveillance but then Sawyer died,” he narrated.
“On the 12th day, it was very terrible. My temperature is always 36. But that same fateful day, I checked my temperature and it was 37.7. I felt the whole world was against me. I was down with fever and became so weak. I lost my appetite,” he explained.
According to him, “at that moment, I needed some people to talk to. I left my house, and in that house, I have my brother, his wife and the two kids. When I developed the symptoms, I was so bothered about my family members. I had to put a call to Lagos State Ministry of Health. The ministry asked me not to make contact with my family and so on.
At that time, I was still thinking it was malaria. I took anti-malaria drugs and nothing changed. The rate at which my temperature rose was screaming. At the first check, my temperature was 37.7. It rose to 38. The highest I measured was 41. The health ministry came and decontaminated the whole house.
“When I was at the isolation centre, the Lagos Ministry of Health attended to me. I was stooling and vomiting. I even became weaker. There was a night I thought my existence on this earth had ended. I was stooling and vomiting. At that point, Dr. David was the only doctor attending to us. He tried a lot to secure life. He had to rehydrate me. After that, they left me to my fate. That was around 9:00 p.m. How I made it that night was miraculous to me. I know the hand of God was upon my life. Dr. David came the next morning. As he was leaving the night before, I was gasping and found it difficult to breathe.
“At the time, Dr. David came, I was already down. He was dumbfounded. After about few minutes, he told me that my condition was so bad that he did not know that I was going to make it. He thought he would meet my lifeless body at the isolation centre. But I am alive today to the glory of God. After some days, he took my samples for investigation. It was positive. He took another sample, and it was positive. He took third samples, it was negative. At that point again, the fever that had subsided began. I said God: is it Ebola again? He then told me that it might be malaria. He placed me on anti-malaria drugs. After sometime, the whole thing subsided. That is how I survived the virus.”
Another survivor, Dr. Fadipe Akinniyi, also of the First Consultant Medical Centre said he was happy to be alive after surviving the deadly disease, saying that he contacted the disease by simply opening the door.
“I am most happy here today because as matter of fact, when everyone was running helter-skelter, I told myself, I only opened the door and by the virtue of that, nothing should happened to me, I never knew I was deceiving myself until the day I recorded my temperature and there was a kind of spike and I told myself what is going on? Once, I have treated malaria a while ago and I told myself that it could be malaria.
“I used anti-malaria drugs but nothing changed, rather, it was getting worse. Eventually, I went to a private hospital to treat myself because I did not want to admit it was Ebola. I felt they would be able to proffer solutions to all my problems but it wasn’t to be so. Rather, it was becoming terrible and I started stooling and vomiting. I summoned the courage and called the doctors at the monitoring units that my temperature has been persistently high.
“They told me not to worry that they would come and pick me up. In another four hours, they came with ambulances and before I knew it, I found myself at Yaba isolation centre. It all happened like a dream because I have read a lot about Ebola even while in schools, we had a lot of things on haemorrhagic virus, how it wrecks direct havoc on human beings, bleeding and all that. You continue to bleed until you are dead.
“I was very devastated but I kept the faith. I remember Dr Adesina telling me when we got there that I would leave this place and that no matter what happens, I would leave this place. She said as it is, people survive the virus, that I should not mind that I would survive the disease. So, I kept my faith and with the help of God, I am very grateful to Dr. David who was the initial doctor who attended to us before our doctors who were on strike finally emerged.
“Dr David really tried. He really tried. He committed himself totally to us and if I should have a time to meet him again, I think I will tell him he is a very brave man, leaving his comfort zone to come and treat us here in Nigeria. Knowing that with these people, after a couple of time, you could actually contract the disease. It is not easy. I thank God because with time, things got better. The vomiting stopped, the fever subsided and eventually, I was declared Ebola negative. I was very happy to reunite with my family and everything changed back to normal,” he explained.
More so, Dr. Adaora Igonoh described her survivor as an act of God, saying that the survivors were privileged to still be alive.
“Thank you so much Governor Fashola, we can’t thank you for everything. We at First Consultants Medical Centre took a risk, we risked our lives because we knew that we wanted to ensure the safety of Lagosians, Nigerians and humanity because we are a global village; from a small village, it can spread to the world and we knew the implications, but we said we would risk our lives and we would not let the index case leave the hospital.
“We remember the people that we lost, the wonderful people who risked their lives and we say that we would never forget them, we can’t. Our lives have been changed, every one of us who went through this ordeal, we know that we are better for it. Everything happens for a reason and we must find out the purpose and the reason why we went through what we went through.
“We want to say thank you very much to the Lagos State Government, and the Ministry of Health as well as the Federal Ministry of Health. The Centre for Disease Control, I was a full witness to the efforts to contain the virus. Infact there was a time I asked for chicken and chips, I was at the Isolation Centre, and it was brought, I was surprised. I asked because I wanted to see if they would honour my request and they brought chicken and chips to me, I was amazed,” she stated.