For some years now, all has not been well with Chidimma Obasi, a 47-year-old widow from Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. And right now, she is appealing to kind-hearted Nigerians to help save her life.
She specifically calls on the government of her native Imo State, the leadership of her local government, as well as churches and philanthropic organisations to come to her aid.
For the past eight years, the mother of two, who lost her husband some 22 years ago when her first child was only four, has been battling with a hole inside her stomach, medically known as incisional hernia.
Incisional hernia is a medical condition where the stomach is opened from inside, forcing the intestines to surge out. It is characterised by loss of appetite and excruciating pain. The pain, according to the poor widow, would start from morning and run through the night. It could last for weeks or even months, depending on its response to the administered drugs. “There is no kind of pain reliever that I don’t have,” she said.
That is what Mrs. Obasi has been going through for the past eight years. This has resulted in eight different surgeries in different hospitals in the country. Unfortunately, six months after each operation, the stomach would burst open again with its attendant pain.
The reporter gathered that her problem started in January 2013 after she was diagnosed with the ailment. She first visited St. Joseph’s Hospital, Okwelle, Imo State, where she went through four different surgeries. The fourth surgery damaged her bladder and resulted in vesicovaginal fistula (VVF), an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina that results in continuous and unremitting urinary incontinence. This forced her to start wearing diapers like babies because her bladder could no longer retain urine. She needed diapers to control the constant outflow of urine from her system.
She told the reporter that when she went back to the hospital, she was referred to the VVF section of the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, where she underwent corrective surgery to repair the damaged bladder. The surgery was successful and she stopped wearing diapers, since she could urinate normally again.
But friends and family members that might have thought Mrs. Obasi’s problem was over were mistaken. Her stomach started swelling up shortly afterwards.
Hear her: “It protruded to a point where I could not bear the pain any longer; I was shouting like a mad dog. I went back to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Okwelle, to complain to the doctor about what I was passing through after the corrective surgery. I went through another test and scan and the result showed the stomach had burst open again. The doctor then told me that he could no longer handle the case as my tummy had become so weak that no doctor in Nigeria could handle it. He told me it could only be handled in India or Europe. He also told me that any doctor in Nigeria who said he could handle it only wants to take my money.”
Although her doctor decided it was time to tell her the truth so she could face reality, she didn’t believe him. She thought the doctor only said that because he was fed up with her case.
Ignoring her doctor’s advice, she approached another private hospital, Bibath Hospital, still in Imo State, where fresh tests and scans were conducted. She was assured that a surgery would take care of the situation. Unfortunately, six months after the surgery, her stomach opened again and the intestines surged out, as before. Amid pain, she went back to the hospital and she was told that that portion of her body had become so weak and that nothing could be done about it.
Determined to be on her feet again, she still went to Orlu General Hospital, Imo State, where she was rejected outright. She was told that her case could not be handled there since she had had five surgeries for the same ailment.
“They feared that carrying out another surgery on me could lead to my death,” she said.
However, she did not give up hope as she went to another private hospital, Osas Hospital, in Ayaofu, Orlu, Imo State, where another surgery was performed on her. “After six months, the whole thing broke down again, throwing me into another round of pain. It was at this point that my children asked me to come back to Lagos so that we could try the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and see what would happen,” she stated.
When she got to LUTH, she explained her medical history to the consultant, Dr. Balogun, who promised her that LUTH would handle it. “He said they were going to use what he called polyene mesh to seal the space and prevent it from opening up again. Surprisingly, the thing broke down right there in the hospital and the stomach burst open again. The stomach remained open for one year, bringing out pus and water throughout the period. They kept cleaning and dressing it for one year. They said the mesh got infected and that was why it was pushing out water and pus. They had to do another surgery to remove the mesh so as to stop the water and pus from coming out and also enable it to heal. So, that operation was done about four months ago,” she said.
With the failure of the last operation, doctors at LUTH advised her to seek medical assistance abroad, either in India or any European country, as they could not understand what was happening anymore.
However, the eight surgeries did not come cheap as she had spent over N5 million so far. Some of the surgeries cost N500,000 each, while others cost N700,000.
“This last one at LUTH cost me a little above N500,000,” she noted. “So, when you add the drugs and miscellaneous expenses, you would realise that we have actually spent over N6 million.”
As a successful businesswoman, the widow explained that she never depended on anybody to cater for her two beautiful daughters since her husband’s death. But now, the ailment has reduced her to almost a pauper, living on people’s financial assistance.
She told the reporter that, in the last seven years of her ordeal, she never bothered anybody. She noted, however, that, at this time, she was really in need of help. She is begging Nigerians to come to her aid since the ailment had grown bigger than what she and her children could handle alone.
“Everybody, except God, has abandoned me. My brothers, sisters, friends, and in-laws have all abandoned me. They said I will die. I am only living by the grace of God. Please, come and save me,” she pleaded.
Her first daughter, 26-year-old Chinenye Obasi, also said it had not been easy for her family. She called on philanthropists and good spirited Nigerians to come to their aid.
She said those willing to help her financially should send such donations to the UBA account of Obasi Sandra Chinasa. The account number is 2092090358. She may be reached on 08036796936.