Health

‘Our Story’ – Ebola virus survivors

 

Nigerians who survived the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, in Lagos, have opened up on their ordeal, saying it was a close shave with death. The survivors were hosted by Governor Babatunde Fashola at the State House, Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

 

Morris‘There was a night I thought my existence on this earth had ended’ – DR. MORRIS IBEAWUCHI

One of them, a staff of the First Consultants Medical Centre, Lagos, 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.

He narrated: “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 Consultants. He lied to me that he was in a conference and felt so weak.

“As a result, people now rushed him to First Consultants not knowing that he had collapsed at the airport. On that very day, the ECOWAS Protocol Officer was there and did not say anything. After sometime, I took his sample and sent it to the lab. I also informed Dr. Adadevoh (now of blessed memory). I informed her. She told me to get back to her as soon as the result was out. When the result came out, everything was normal.

“But that night, the liver 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 be so concerned. After we went around, Dr. Adadevoh went for her daily clinic. It was at that point that one of the ECOWAS officers 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.”

Ibeawuchi explained that late Adadevoh tried to get through to the Lagos State Ministry of Health as he 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 them 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 showed the feature 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 Sawyer died. But on the 12th day, it was very terrible. My temperature was 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.

“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 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 sample, 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 medications. After sometime, the whole thing subsided. That is how I survived the virus.”

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