By ROSEMARY ONUOHA
Mr. Celestine Obumneme Ezenwa, a spare parts dealer left home on the 26th of June 2011 in high spirits for the business of the day. As usual, his programme was to go about his business and return home to his wife and daughter of two years at the close of the day.
But after the business of the day, he set off for home and that was when disaster struck. There was an electric spark from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, pole above where he was standing at the bus-stop. The spark disconnected(cut) a high tension wire which landed on his head. The next thing was blackout.
When he woke up two days later at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Ezenwa could not remember what happened to him but he noticed that his legs were badly burnt and swollen. “When I opened my eyes,” he said, “I saw people wearing white all around me and my mind told me that this must be a hospital. I asked one of the people where I was and he said that I was at LUTH). And I asked what happened, and they told me that a high tension wire fell on me.
“Later when they were narrating the full story to me, I was told that when the wire fell on me, everybody ran away but one man was brave enough to strike away the wire with a stick. But before then, the wire has burnt me very badly and condemned my two legs. The people around taught that I was dead anyway but as God would have it, my body shook. It was then that I was rushed to a nearby hospital. The next day, I was taken to LUTH.”
After he regained consciousness, Ezenwa was told that his two legs would be amputated from the knee because they were badly damaged. “The legs decayed before they decided to amputate it. It got infected and it was decided that amputation would prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of my body,” Ezenwa said.
Presently, Ezenwa’s legs from the knee have been amputated. Unfortunately, the amputation was not properly done. Accordingly, a second surgery is required to correct the first one. And being a small spare parts dealer who all along was struggling to make ends meet, Ezenwa has the Catholic Church, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and even sympathisers to thank for footing his medical bills thus far.
According to him, “I am the first son of my parents and my mother is the only one alive,” he said. “We are a family of seven, four young men and three ladies. Before this accident, I was the only one doing something tangible among my siblings. One of my siblings is an okada rider while another is a teacher, the rest don’t have anything doing for now,” Ezenwa said.
Being unable to foot the huge medical bills arising from the accident, the Catholic Church took it upon itself to salvage the situation. The Justice Development and Peace Commission, JDPC as well as the Society of Saint Vincent De Paul both of the Catholic fold of the Badagry Deanery were very much instrumental in raising funds which have been used to foot Ezenwa’s medical bills thus far.
Having been in hospital since June last year, the Church, friends, acquaintances as well as sympathisers have been taking care of Ezenwa. He said; “All I can say is that God has determined that I will live. Since it happened, it is just the Church and the people we met at LUTH who were touched by my condition that have been helping me.
“Also, some friends and colleagues in the market have helped as well. So it is their effort that is still keeping me today. Because my family is not all that financially strong, it has been such kind hearted people that God has been using to attend to my situation.”
At the onset, Ezenwa was at LUTH but later, he was taken to a private hospital. “It was until December 30th 2011 when LUTH went on strike and there were no hospital personnel to take care of us anymore that I was discharged and brought to this private hospital. Before bringing me here, I was taken to another hospital but they rejected me and that was how this doctor accepted me.”
A lot of money has gone into taking care of Ezenwa even as he confirmed, saying “I can’t give an estimate of the amount that has been pumped into my medical bill but I can say that it very huge. Even when I was at LUTH where we had to buy the drugs and everything ourselves, over a million was paid as service charge alone exclusive of all other expenses. Even here now, about N100,000 is spent every month just to dress the wound exclusive of drugs. In short, this accident has gulped a lot of money.”
Despite the travails and the excruciating pains that Ezenwa is experiencing, he said that he has never lost faith in God. “When I realised what happened to me, what came to my mind was maybe God wants me to reconcile with him before I die. When I was at LUTH, I asked them to call a reverend father for me immediately because I just thought that God wanted to give me that second chance to reconcile with him before I die. Due to the pains that I was passing through, I thought I would die before now. So they called a reverend father for me. After hearing my confession, the reverend father started counseling me and giving me words of encouragement.”
Ezenwa said that it was his Christian faith that has kept him going all along, saying, “If not that I am a Christian and I know that if one kills oneself, one will go to hell, I won’t be here to endure all this sufferings. That is the only thing that has kept me till now, if not, I will not tell anybody because the pain is unbearable especially when they want to dress the wounds. I don’t want to talk about the pain, it is something else.”
The pain notwithstanding, Ezenwa said that he has not lost faith in God. “In all, I have not lost faith in God. I know that the will of God must be done. That is all I know. I have been a believer before now and I know that his will must be. If GOD is not with me, everybody would have deserted me. And I don’t know what would have been my fate now. But with the way the Church and every other people have responded, they have shown me that there is nothing God cannot do.”
To get Ezenwa back on track, it is estimated that the second surgery will require about N1.5 million. According to Dr. Ahaiwe Chinedu, Medical Director of the hospital where Ezenwa is, his case is not a regular case.
Chinedu said “This is second degree burn, but I was made to understand that it was first degree burn when it happened, but due to delayed management at LUTH where he started treatment, it now got to second degree burn. But we are working on it to take it back to first degree and heal it as well and make sure that the wound covers.”
On the amputation that was not properly done, Chinedu said “Ideally the amputation was not supposed to have bones shooting out, they were supposed to cover the bones with flesh so that the bones will not be protruding out. But in this case the bones are protruding out. It was not properly fashioned and we are trying to re-fashion the bones. So we plan to do a second amputation so that we can cover the bones so that if he has to use prosthesis (artificial limbs), he can use it well.”
However Ezenwa’s case is not a hopeless case as according to the doctor if all things are done right, the young man will definitely bounce back to live. “There is hope, if there is no hope we wouldn’t have admitted him to treatment here because this is a private clinic, we know that there is a possibility of him making it. All we are looking for is for money to do the re-fashioning of the bones and if possible skin grafting.
“If we can do that the young man will come back to life. If we can get about N1.5 million now, we can put him back on track in a fashion that will make him use artificial limbs. Again there is a contraction in one of his arms, if that can be done, the young man will make use of his arms again and with artificial limbs, he will bounce back to life,” Chinedu reiterated.