By Olayinka Latona
FOUR-YEAR-OLD Aaishat Dikko is going blind. Retinoblastoma – a devastating eye disorder that is threatening to take her eyesight, has already claimed her left eye. When she was born into the Shamsudin Dikko family, Aaishat weighed a healthy 3.2 kilogrammes.
As a baby, she was a beauty to behold. Her beautiful eyes were the first feature to catch her parentsâ€™ attention. Little did they know what was to come.
Few weeks after her birth, the Dikkos discovered, to their dismay, thatÂ Aaishat had a tumour in her left eye. After running from pillar to post, the little girl was eventually diagnosed with Retinoblastoma – most common eye cancer in children.
It is a life-threatening cancer of the retinaÂ that is generally discovered in babies between the ages of 6-24 months, although it can be foundÂ earlier or later.. It occurs in approximately 1 in 15,000 live births.
Rather than allow the little girlÂ live a normalÂ life like other children, the troubled eye was subsequentlyÂ surgically removed at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). She wasÂ barely 10 months old when this was carried out.
Much later, Aaishat was referred to the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan for 22 cycles of radiotherapy which she completed successfully. But as if that was not enough, in 2007, she was diagnosed with a tiny tumour in her right eye.
Although her parents started the radiotherapy treatment, she requires chemotherapy which, unfortunately, the appropriate drugs are not in Nigeria.Â Aaishat had to be taken to South Africa for the drug administration.
There, she met a retina specialist and surgeon, as well as an ocularist and oncologist who designed a protocol of six cycles of chemotherapy for her.
Shamsudeen, her caring father spent in the region of N1.4 million during the South African, but thankfully,Â Aaishat completed her six cycles of chemotherapy. It was confirmed that the tumour had reduced to a very small size.Â But respite is still far. ForÂ this little girl to be completely out of the woods, she is required to undergo a fresh set of six cycles of cryotheraphy that would completely destroy tumour and stop it growing further.
Her doting parents have scrambled and kept endless appointments, but so far, they have only able to meet up with just two cycles out of thesix. At the moment, there is no financial resource to continue with the treatment.
A medical report dated April 29, 2010 signed by Prof. F.B. Akinsola, Consultant Ophthamologist and Head of Department, Guiness Eye Centre, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Aaishat has been on treatment for what was described as bilateral retinoblastoma bothÂ at the LUTH and the Johannesburg Eye Hospital, South Africa.
The report notes that her left eye was enucleated while tumour in the right eye was treated with cryotherapy. The clause, however was that herÂ parents require urgent financial assistance to save not just the childâ€™s remaning eye but also her precious life. From the medical report,Â Â Aaishatâ€™s present condition requires her to be taken back to Johannesburg Eye Hospital urgently.
Explaining his dilemma, Aaishatâ€™s father, Shamsudin Dikko, who is a agriculturalist is pleading to the kind- hearted Nigerians to come to his daughterâ€™s rescue.
He is pleading passionately for assistance on all fronts to enable the family meet the financial obligations towards ailing AaishatÂ so that all previous efforts would not be in vain. Currently, the little girl requires a sum in the region of N6.0 million for un-interrupted and complete treatment of the tumour.
â€œThe girl has been complaining of seeing â€œcobwebsâ€ and this is an indication that the tumour is spreading to the girlâ€™s line of vision. If not treated quickly, Aaishat will lose her vision forever,â€ he lamented. Continuing, The pained father noted: â€œIt has been a traumatic time for our family. Nigerians should please come to the aid of my little girl.Â I have spent over N3.0 million on her previous treatment and now she is complaining of seeing cobwebs which indicate that the tumour is spreading.Â I donâ€™t want her to lose her vision completely. I have spent all what I have on her. My business is now at a standstill. All I need is for Nigerians to come to her aid and rescue us from this awful situation.
â€œI have been to the Lagos State government, but due to the heavu pressure of other cases from the people applying to the government daily, I have not been contacted up till now. I donâ€t want my girl to lose her second eye.â€