Magnus Eze, Enugu
For seven years, it has been hell for the family of Mr. and Mrs. Okechukwu Odika, from Neni in Aniocha Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The couple wedded in June 2010 and had their first baby, Chinyelu Emmanuella on October 22, 2012. But what should have been a bundle of joy for them has instead remained their biggest burden. Since then, every other activity has come to a standstill for the Odikas, following an abnormality identified in the child shortly after birth.
The family has had to live in and out of hospitals. At the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu State, where the baby has been receiving care, it was reported that she had “persisting bilateral knee flexion and TA tightness, which posed serious challenges to the plan of independent standing and possible ambulation.”
However, doctors at the Children’s Hospital of the Centre for Cerebral Palsy Spasticity, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, United States, have said that all hope is not lost.
According to the hospital, Chinyelu is a good candidate for rhizotomy surgery, adding that the permanent reduction in abnormal muscle tone will help her significantly.
A letter dated July 26, 2019, from the US hospitalm signed by the director of the Centre for Cerebral Palsy Spasticity, T.S. Park, and the coordinator, Deanna Walter, after evaluating her video and medical information, stated that the girl required orthopaedic surgery for the hamstring muscles to achieve the best possible outcomes.
The hospital put the cost at about $52,000 (summed to about N19 million when other costs are added) covering the initial evaluation at clinic, SDR surgery, postoperative hospital care, treatment of postoperative complications as well as braces and equipment.
Odika told Daily Sun that the family was stuck, having spent virtually everything they had, and they would not want to abandon the child.
“We decided to show the baby love because of the strong emotional attachment we have for her. At the UNTH, several people dump their babies and run away, but we can’t do that. I know that it has really drained me and my wife but we want her to live and be well. That’s why we are appealing to people to come to our aid.
“Anytime I see my baby, I feel like crying but I know that it could be better. The doctors have assured us that this corrective surgery could make her okay; and we are quite hopeful that support will come our way,” the distraught father said.
He claimed that the family has in the past seven years spent a minimum of N20,000 every week on the child just for her to live: “The financial implication has been really enormous. Before now, we spent N4,000 daily on physiotherapy until January this year, when we now scaled it down to twice a week, amounting to N8,000 weekly.”
Odika said that Chinyelu, who is currently in Nursery 3, displays high degree of brilliance that should not be allowed to waste. He, therefore, appealed to public-spirited individuals to come to their aid.
The Odikas could be reached via 08167435510. The account number in Fidelity Bank is 5331544767, and the account name is Odika Okechukwu.