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Ebola Survivors Meet Fashola, Recount Ordeal

By Ayo Balogun, Lagos

Five Nigerians who survived the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Lagos, Nigeria met with Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Thursday evening and recount their ordeal in the hands of the deadly disease.

The meeting held at the State House, Ikeja has in attendants several pressmen, state government officials and Fashola. The five were part of the nine people who survived the disease.

Picture: 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, on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Picture: 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 left) and Dr Adaora Igonoh (2nd right) during a visit to the Governor at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

One of the survivors and staff of the First Consultants Medical Centre, Obalende, where the index Ebola Virus case, Patrick Sawyer, was attended to before he died, Dr. Ibeabuchi Morris, said he was the first to receive the late Sawyer into the hospital, saying that the patient did not disclose that he collapsed at the Lagos Airport, but was first treated of Malaria.

He said after the patient continued to manifest high temperature, he took the blood sample and sent it to the laboratory, then contacted Dr. Stella Adadevoh who advised him to continue attending to the patient pending the arrival of the test result, adding that when the blood test result arrived, it was confirmed that he was EVD positive leading to his death a few days later.

Dr. Ibeabuchi disclosed that he started manifesting symptoms of the disease 12 days later as his body temperature continued to rise beyond 38.5 degrees Celsius, explaining that when his condition continued to degenerate, he reported to the Lagos State Ministry of Health and was advised to restrict his contact with members of his family.

According to him, his body temperature got to an all time high of over 40 degrees at which point the Medical team from Lagos State came and took him to the isolation centre after decontaminating his house. He thanked the Lagos State Government and all the other agencies and individuals who took care of him and made it possible for him to survive.

Another survivor, Dr. Adaora Igonoh, thanked the Lagos State Governor and the Government for their dedication in the battle to contain the spread of the disease which, according to her, made it possible for some victims, including herself to survive the virus.

Dr. Igonoh, who is also a staff of First Consultants Medical Centre, commended the hospital and the staff for the risk they took to ensure that the disease did not spread beyond the limit it did.

She also paid tribute to those who lost their lives in that process, adding that without their sacrifice, the story would probably have been different.

Also giving his testimony, Mr. Dennis Akagha, husband to Mrs. Justina Akagha, a nursing staff of First Consultants Medical Centre, who died days after attending to Patrick Sawyer, said he got to hear about his wife’s contact with Sawyer when the death of the Liberian was announced on television, as his wife confirmed that she treated the victim.

He said when the symptoms of the disease started manifesting in his wife, they first thought it was pregnancy induced or Malaria because his wife told him she wore protective gloves while attending to Sawyer, adding that it was on the 14th day when his wife’s condition worsened that he took her to the First Consultants from where he was directed to the Isolation Centre in Yaba where his wife later passed on.

He disclosed that he did not immediately go to hospital when he started manifesting the symptoms until he started vomiting and feeling dehydrated, saying that he was finally taken to the Isolation Centre where he was treated and discharged after he tested negative of the virus.

Other survivors who gave testimonies were Dr. Fadipe Akinniyi, also a staff of First Consultants Medical Centre,l and Dr. Kelechi Emenuo, wife of late Dr. Emenuo, who treated one of Mr. Sawyer’s companions in Port Harcourt and later died of the disease. All the survivors paid glowing tribute to the Lagos State Governor for his commitment and dedication towards containing the spread of the disease and ensuring the survival of some of the victims.

Earlier, in his opening address, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said the reason behind the invitation of the survivors was principally to stem the stigmatization of patients who have been treated and confirmed Ebola virus negative as the testimonies given by the survivors would go a long way to remove fear and ignorance about the disease.

He said government also wanted to appreciate the efforts and sacrifice the survivors have made in the concerted drive to contain the disease as well as the trauma they went through while in isolation, adding that the people of Lagos in particular and Nigeria in general would remain grateful to them.

Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola said the lesson to be drawn from the experience was that Nigerians should be ready at all times to confront and overcome challenges that confront them as a people.

In his remarks, after the testimonies of the survivors, Governor Fashola, who noted that the Ebola Virus Disease incident was not the first and may not be the last infectious disease that would afflict the nation, said the experience has also helped to know more about the EVD adding that aside knowing that it is not a death sentence, the gestation period of 21 days has also been identified.

According to him, “This is the first time that the disease is breaking in an urban centre and this has helped and will help research into this deadly virus. For example, it is through research over time that it came to be known that the virus has 21 days gestation period and that it has various strains”.

Governor Fashola commended the survivors for the courage they have shown in coming forward to speak about their experience adding that their testimonies would help the Government to further enlighten the citizenry that people actually survived the disease and would also stem the stigmatization of survivors.

The Governor also thanked all the individuals and organizations that stood by the State Government in the efforts to stem the spread of the disease, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Diseases Control Centre, the Federal Government and other health workers.

Reiterating that the last contact person under surveillance would be confirmed fit and discharged midnight Thursday September 18, 2014, Governor Fashola said the next step forward for the Government would be to identify and help reinstate businesses that have suffered loss during and as a result of the efforts to contain the disease in the State.

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