|Funmilola Olasinde Oniyelu: After and before Photo|
Barely able to move her body as she sunk into one of the chairs in the small living room, you could feel the pain and agony she had been through over the last eight months. With legs swollen, tummy protruding and skin bearing signs of torment, it is indeed one of the most difficult periods in the life of the young mother. Since June 22, 2015 when she was rushed to the emergency section of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, for a Caesarean Section to deliver her of her second child, life has not been the same for 37-year-old Funmilola Olasinde Oniyelu, a graduate of Demography and Statistics from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State.
Apart from losing the baby that was supposed to be her second child after almost eight years of wait after the arrival of Temiloluwa, the first, Oniyelu was left on the sick bed for the next seven weeks following complications from the surgery. By the third day after she was wheeled into the theatre for the ‘operation’, Lola as she is fondly called by friends and family members, could not move her legs or any other part of her body. She was between life and death as her condition continued to deteriorate.
“None of the doctors told me anything,” she said during an encounter with our correspondent earlier in the week. By several yards, she is a different person from the beautiful and boisterous woman she once was. “I just realised that three days after the surgery, I couldn’t move my legs and other parts of my body,” she continued. “I was very worried, yet nobody explained anything to me. Then on the fifth day or so, the doctors told me that I would need dialysis and that they would also have to run some tests on me. I was shocked. Then suddenly they told me that I had developed kidney problem. It was just like that,” she recalled, battling to contain her emotions.
Rattled by the news, Oniyelu who until her predicament was a senior staff member of a big private company in Lagos, emaciated rapidly, losing weight and balance in similar fashion in a matter of days. Worried by the development and the pains the protruding tummy was causing her, Oniyelu approached her private doctor, a gynaecologist, for answers. It was in the process that the medical practitioner discovered something strange.
“After the surgery, I realised that my tummy was getting bigger. But after the pains became unbearable, I went to my private hospital and explained to the doctor who later examined me. It was in the process of his inspection that he discovered that the doctors who performed the surgery on me at LUTH had made a terrible mistake by cutting through my navel, which according to him was not proper. He told me that in the process of conducting the surgery, the surgeons were meant to cover two holes in my stomach but failed to do so and that it was the reason why my tummy was protruding.
“After the inspection that day, he referred me back to LUTH to meet the doctors for them to cover the holes but instead, I was told that the only option left for me was to undergo another surgery which they weren’t even sure was going to solve the problem except I did a kidney transplant. I was left heartbroken.
“How could I have suddenly developed kidney problem after the surgery when I never had any sign of the sickness before that time? Before the CS, I was able to pass out urine normally without any problem and nothing was wrong with my kidneys but immediately after the surgery, I couldn’t urinate normally again. The doctors at LUTH have used their carelessness to destroy my kidneys. The painful part is that they don’t even realise their error and how this has affected my life. They pretend as if all is well and have simply abandoned me to my fate. I have tried on my own to bring the attention of the hospital’s management to my plight, but so far I have not heard anything positive from them. This is not fair, I don’t deserve this type of treatment from them,” she said, before breaking down in tears.
Reacting to the allegation, the Public Relations Officer of LUTH, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, told Saturday PUNCH that perhaps the victim was seeking for help through the wrong quarters because the authorities of the hospital have not been officially notified of the matter. He said if the sick woman had approached the institution for discussions through the appropriate channel, they would have done whatever they could to help her situation.
“The matter has not been officially brought before the management of the hospital or even me, so I cannot really comment much on it. But what I think the young lady should do is to come to the office and let us discuss. If I hear her, then we can know how to go about her case. As far as I am concerned, I don’t think her matter is before the management of the institution.
“But we must note that doctors are trained professionals who know their job, so I don’t think they would want to do anything deliberately to harm any patient under their care. In summary, all I am saying is that she should come to us for discussion so that we can see how best to intervene in her situation. The fact remains that there is no such matter before me at the moment,” he said.
To stay alive, Oniyelu has since been going for dialysis at least two times in a week at LUTH and other private hospitals, depending on where the equipment is available at the time. The situation apart from consuming her entire life savings has also swallowed her job. Today, the once bubbling and buoyant OAU graduate who finished tops of her department in 2004 has nothing more to keep her alive except her sheer determination and courage to survive. But even though her spirit has remained resolute, the realities on ground have broken her down physically. There isn’t much left for the young mother to lean on.
“I have sold virtually everything I had to take care of myself,” Lola said as she buried her face in a small towel. The sight would move you to tears. “I sold my plot of land in Ejigbo, sold my vehicle, an SUV, and even my wedding ring and other jewellery just to stay alive. My mother even had to sell her land to provide some money. The sickness has drained me inside and outside.
“Initially I thought it was something I would be able to handle on my own but as time went on, I realised that it was beyond my power. In a month, I spend nothing less than N300, 000 on dialysis alone. The sickness is the type that requires blood, so each time I go for dialysis, I take two pints of blood which cost nothing less than N26, 000. If I am not taking any injection, the dialysis would cost about N30, 000 but if I would be given injection, then I spend over N50, 000. In most cases, I go for dialysis five times in a month. As I speak, I have nothing left in the bank. In fact, it was in the course of this problem that I lost my job,” she said.
Besides the financial and material cost the health condition appears to have taken on Lola, the sickness has also had its toll on her mental and psychological formations. From a once vibrant woman, she now has to be assisted to do almost everything.
“Many times I sit back in the room and cry, wondering whatever I have done to deserve this type of predicament. Beyond the physical pains that I experience, it is the psychological trauma that this condition has subjected me to that has affected me the most. If you know what it feels like to be able to move around on your own before, then you will understand what I am talking about because now, I have to be supported to even sit down. Mine is not an experience I want to wish for even an enemy,” she said tearfully.
According to doctors, Lola will need at least N8m to undergo a kidney transplant at a specialist hospital either in Nigeria or abroad for her to have any real chance of survival. At the moment, with almost every valuable sold to keep her alive, raising the needed fund to pay for such expensive surgery could prove a daunting task for family members of the 37-year-old whose condition appears to be worsening by the day. For her, only a rapid intervention can heal her gaping wound.
To help, kindly pay into:
Bank: Zenith Bank Account
Account number: 1005109260 (current), Branch: International Aiport Road, Lagos.
Name: Oniyelu Funmilola Cecilia