Jesusegun Alagbe and Timileyin Akinkahunsi
On a sunny morning, Mrs. Blessing Okonkwo’s eyes were laden with tears as she held her eight-year-old son, Uche, close to her chest. The boy breathed heavily when he was finally sat down on a chair, facing his mother.
Blessing first noticed that something was wrong with her son’s health in 2011, a year after he was born. Uche was breathing at a fast pace, his lips were turning bluish. She was getting scared.
“I had to quickly take him to a hospital, where they carried out a series of test on him and there they said he had a hole in his heart,” she said.
“Since 2011, he has been on drugs, morning, afternoon and at night. At times, he would be admitted for two or three weeks in the hospital. Eventually, my boss, who I worked for as a cook, said I should take him to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.”
A 2016 medical report signed by the Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist, Dr. B.A. Animasahun, of the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, LASUTH, stated that Uche required surgical intervention.
It said, “Uche is a five-year-old male who presented at two years of age with recurrent cough, fast breathing and bluish discolouration of lips since birth.
“Examination at admission revealed an ill-looking child in respiratory distress cyanosed, plethoric with grade 3 digital and toe clubbing. Oxygen saturation in room air was 69-72%.
“Cardiovascular examination revealed tachycardia, a grade 3/6 ejection systolic murmur loudest at the left upper sternal border and apex beat at the 5th left intercostal space mid clavicular line.
“A diagnosis of bronchopneumonia in a child with a cyanotic congenital heart disease possibly tetralogy of fallot was made. Chest radiograph showed cardiomegaly with bronchopneumonic changes while an echocardiography confirmed tetralogy of fallot.
“He was managed with intranasal oxygen, antibiotics and propranolol and discharged home on oral propranolol.
“He requires surgical intervention.”
Meanwhile, for the [thoracic] surgery to take place, Uche needs to be flown to an Indian hospital at a cost of N5m, a sum Blessing said she and her driver husband could not afford to raise.
Just recently, Uche was admitted for a month at the hospital, where he was said to have contracted hernia.
She said, “But we were told he couldn’t be treated of the infection in isolation; he has to undergo the surgery first. Doctors said my son had just five months to live, which is very painful to me.
“Each day I see him, he fades away, but I don’t want him to leave me, his father and siblings; he is the last of my five children. In spite of being eight years old, he is still in Primary 1 due to the sickness; he simply can’t cope in class.
“He cannot walk for five minutes without getting tired. My son’s life is very precious and who knows what he will become tomorrow! I just pray Nigerians will be merciful unto me and help me raise funds to treat him. We won’t take the gesture for granted.”
- Donations can be made to: Uchechukwu ThankGod Okonkwo, 0774085700, Access Bank.
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