…Needs N5m for surgery
By Yinka Ajayi
For Mr. & Mrs. Israel E. Amariku, nothing could be as devastating as suddenly having a beautiful and fast growing child become deformed and incapacitated.
Baby Ekeka Rejoice Amariku was born hale and hearty and grew rapidly. The baby radiated love and sweetness while the young parents exuded confidence that she would grow up to become a pride to the family.
But all of that vanished in 2015 when the baby, at 15 months, accidentally hurt herself. She had crawled to a corner of the one – room apartment occupied by the family in Oviore, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State where her dad had kept a bottle of chemical while the mum was busy in the kitchen, spilled the content on the floor and fell over it.
The chemical, which the father, who was then away to work, later identified as sodium hydroxide, widely used in industrial production, poured into her eyes.
Multi-talented Israel Amariku, in his mid-thirties, and from Obodoeti in Ndokwa West Local Government Area of Delta State, is a sewing machine technician, drummer and industrial chemistry technician. His wife, a petty trader, hails from Otor-Igho in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State.
Israel was at the time working in the production unit of a blue chip company and had vast knowledge of chemicals and their uses.
To complement his salary, he had set up a small unit in a corner of his apartment where, during his spare time, he produced chemical products like sewing machine oil, liquid soap, after shave, petroleum jelly and hair cream, among others, which his wife and brothers sold in the neighbourhood and beyond. He replicated in the make-shift factory all the safety measures he learned in his company’s factory and extra money began to roll in to ease the family’s financial stress.
The production process went on smoothly for over two years until that sad day of May 29, 2015, when Rejoice crawled to the corner of the apartment where the bottle of the chemical was kept, spilled it on the floor and fell over it.
Busy in the kitchen, Mrs. Amariku had left the baby in the living room. Intuitively, she peeped from the kitchen after a while to check on the baby. She was stunned when she saw Rejoice drenched and lying on her tummy, her two hands clutched to her face. She raced to her to find out what had gone wrong. She saw the empty bottle of the chemical lying beside her and the liquid all over the ground.
“I was scared stiff. I grabbed her and tried to see if she had been hurt in any way. I noticed that she kept covering her eyes with her hands. I tried to take the hands away from the eyes. Then I found that the right eye was firmly closed. I tried to open the eye and wash it. She resisted. I raised the alarm. Just then, my husband came in and I tried to explain to him. We were devastated,” Mrs. Amariku narrated.
The little girl’s two eyelids were burnt and the corneal damaged.
From the Delta State University Teaching, Oghara, where the baby was initially hospitalized for about three months, they moved on referral, as one of the eyes was permanently closed, to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan. She was operated on but that did not bring much relief. After over a month of stay at UCH, Israel, the father of the baby, said, “We were told that she would need corneal transplant and separation of the lids abroad.
We had just N.7million savings before the incident and we have exhausted it. So how do we raise the money to travel out for the operation?” He explained that reaching out to members of the public for help became inevitable for which they opened account No. 2959196019 at the FCMB in his name, Amariku Israel.
Indeed, a medical report, dated August 8, 2015, by St. Gregory’s Specialist Clinic & Ultrasound Diagnostic Service, Ibadan and another by Drs. S.A. Gbadamosi and K.O. Fakayode while at UCH for the surgery, detailed the critical situation of Rejoice and the need for surgery abroad. One of the reports stated: “Right eye eyelid separated from the cornea by a 32z18x31mm vol 10cc of clear liquid probably retained tears as no tears flowed on the ‘R’ during crying. Right eye 3mm thick, stuck closed.” The report put the AP (mm) for the right eye at 17 and the left eye, 13, while pointing out that the ANT CHEM of the right eye has collapsed and that of the left eye is thick walled 1.7mm.
According to report, the LENS of the right eye of the girl is thick and has an echogenic 2.9mm just as that of her left eye is equally thick but has the echogenic at 2.2mm. It observed the vitreous, retina and extra ocular of both eyes to be normal and summarized its diagnosis thus: “R’fused eyelids and retro-lid accumulation of tears or cyst, bilateral cataract and reduced chamber.”
An August 8, 2017 follow-up report on Rejoice by Dr. Temitope Tijani, Consultant Clinical at the Skipper Eye-Q, Victoria Island, Lagos, which has made the parents to intensify their appeal to public spirited Nigerians to enable them take the child overseas for surgery, pointed out that she fell on sodium hydroxide at 15 months and both eyelids were burnt and the cornea scary and, after initial surgery, both lids are stuck together.
The report said: “On assessment, visual acuity was light perception with good projection in the right eye in four quadrants and no light perception in the left eye. An assessment of bilateral ankylosymbleparon was made with left phthisis bulbi.
“There is need for bilateral ankylosymbleparon release and possible keratoprosthesis in the right eye and orbital reconstruction for implants in the left eye. The little girl will benefit from treatment abroad.”
The parents have since established contact with Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, Sector-51, Wazirabad Village, Gurugram, Haryana-122001, India which, in a response signed by one Dr. Urvi, put the tentative cost of the treatment, accommodation and feeding for one–two weeks’ stay or beyond, transportation for both the baby and her company, exclusive services, including professional charges of other consultants, additional procedures, special drugs, consumables and blood products at N5 million.
While the Amarikus are running helter skelter to raise the money, the baby has continued to suffer the pain of the injury.
“There is no other way we can raise this money unless people come to our rescue. We are begging good spirited Nigerians to help us raise the money and God will reward them bountifully”, Mrs. Amariku said. Public spirited Nigerians willing to help baby Rejoice can reach the parents on telephone numbers 08146011973, 08026237676.
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