Mrs. Franca Ese Onomigbo’s story is that of a breath away from death. On Thursday, August 17, she was diagnosed with a tumour of the heart at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. The diagnosis was done by Dr. (Mrs.) Ogbemudia.
But the cost of the operation is frightening, and the 40-year-old petty trader based in Benin, Edo State, and her school-teacher husband, Christopher, could not afford it. Her condition was gradually deteriorating.
Franca was then placed on admission at the Sapele Central Hospital in Delta State, to determine her actual case. But her ailment was confirmed by resident cardiologist, Dr. (Mrs.) Ejiro M. Umueri.
Dr. (Mrs.) O. Omoraka, who is also one-time Head of Cardiology in the state, thereafter referred Franca to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) in Enugu, the only public health institution that has the facilities to operate heart tumours in Nigeria.
Quite unfortunately, consultants at UNTH were on strike when she was brought to the hospital. She was then referred to the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH), where vaccination and preventive antibiotics were administered. But her condition is deteriorating.
Assurances have been given that her case would be treated at UNTH. Franca has been waiting to undergo the surgery, while her husband has been all about trying to raise the money: from friends, relations, Christian brothers and sisters as well as religious and non-governmental organisations, among others.
Sitting besides his wife on the hospital bed, her husband said they have been able to raise N1.3 million. They still need about N2.7 million, he added, solemnly clutching a rosary as if all his hope depended on it.
Franca, who cut a pathetic picture on the bed in an emaciated frame, even as her arms and legs had become swollen, said in a soft voice: “I’m dying gradually. Please help me. I hardly eat and I cough painfully. The last test showed the growth is at a dangerous stage and that immediate surgery has to be carried out to save my life.”
She said she has put pride aside to raise the money anyhow for her to live.
Kind-hearted individuals who wish Franca to live could send their donations to her account at Access Bank. The savings account number is 0036379970. She can be reached on her mobile phone line 08037308425.