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Ebola survivors recount journey to parenthood

IT was a time for thanksgiving and sober reflection at the First Consultant Medical Centre, FMC, Obalende, Lagos, when survivors of the 2014 Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic, EVD, gathered along with their relatives and staff of the health institution for a special reception.

Three of the survivors, Dr. Ada Igonoh, Dr. Akinniyi Emmanuel Fadipe, and Dr Adewale Ige Adejoro, all of who are medical officers of the hospital, were the cynosure all eyes as they sat by their spouses cuddling their newborn babies.

The reception was to say “Thank You” to two US-based Nigerian medical practitioners – Dr Julius Kpaduwa, and his wife, Dr. (Mrs) Stella Kpaduwa, for their contributions towards the successful outcome of the story of Ebola at the FMC on one hand, and in Nigeria as a whole, on the other.

Kpaduwa, is the Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, who delivered Igonoh of her baby at the Greater El Monte Community Hospital, California, USA, last year, while his wife was the paediatrician that took care of the baby after she was born.

Dr Ada Igonoh
Dr Ada Igonoh

“We have so much pride in these two Nigerians, said an elated Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri, Chief Medical Director, FMC, Lagos.
Ohiaeri who spoke while presenting giant-sized “Thank You” card signed by the hospital staff and Ebola survivors, recounted that the Ebola episode was indeed a trying period for the FMC, but was thankful that a happy development had emerged with the birth of three healthy babies to the survivors and their spouses.

“We want to honour them (Kpaduwas) for delivering Ada (Igonoh) in the US. We want to express how proud we are of them. We want them to meet everybody and go back to the USA to tell everyone that we are fine,” he noted even as he supervised the cutting of a special cake by all the Ebola survivors.

By Sola Ogundipe and Gabriel Olawale
When she left Nigeria for the US on July 6, 2015 to attend a conference organised by the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, ANPA, Dr Ada Igonoh, did not expect she was going to give birth abroad. Her story:

IT was an annual convention at the Marriot Hotel in Florida, Orlando. I was there with the Medical Director of First Consultant, Benjamin Ohaeri and in the cause of the programme i was introduced to Dr Kpaduwa and Dr (Mrs) Kpaduwa.

After the conference i went to my brother’s place who lives in California and since Dr Kpaduwa reside in California, my brother and i decided that we were going to be seeing him for counselling and this was made possible with the help of Dr Ohaeri.

Uneventful pregnancy and delivery: At this period, everything was going on fine; there was no problem with the pregnancy apart from the little weight gain and the little pains here and there, and having to carry an increasing amount of load as the months went by.

Complications in pregnancy

I did not have any nausea or vomiting or any complication whatsoever; no diabetes, no hypertension, nothing.
The delivery was normal. Usually, there are complications in pregnancy that would determine whether you deliver vaginally or through Caesarean Section. It was decided that the mode of my delivery would be normal and I delivered on the 2nd of November, 2015. The baby weighed about 9 pounds and one ounce (4.12kg).

The delivery went very well. No complication, no bleeding, nothing at all and I was discharged 24 hours later and sent home. The baby is growing every day, taking her immunisations and every other care.

Dr. Kpaduwa and Dr (Mrs) Kpaduwa who took my delivery are both Nigerian; the kind of care they gave me brings me to that point where I have faith in Nigeria. Even though so many things happen along the way and then you begin to wonder what we have in Nigeria, we have the good the bad and the ugly, but I met the good.

Survivors’ concerns
When it comes to concerns, the most important is with the male survivors who have been said to still have the virus in them for a couple of months after surviving and because of this, they have been instructed to have protected intercourse so as not to infect their partners.
People need to bear in mind that Ebola survivors are human beings that have been able to pass through a very difficult time in their lives, having had a near-death experience that they have been able to survive.

They need the support of their family members and colleagues at work, not to be alienated or stigmatised.
Male survivors should adhere to the WHO recommendation that says they should protect themselves during sexual intercourse for the first nine months.

For those with the Post- Ebola Syndrome such as aches and pains, you just have to mange it with pain killers and trust God that it is going to get better and you get stronger than you were before the Ebola virus disease struck.

We are to be celebrated, not stigmatised or discriminated against, not to carry that cloak of Ebola virus. There is more to the life of a survivor than the Ebola virus.

Biggest lesson

In all of these, what I have learned is that if you can be of service to someone, that you should give your all as if you are giving unto God and not necessarily unto man.

When the time is right I hope to get back to work. My baby is two months old now and doing exclusive breast feeding. No baby formula at all. It is tough, not easy, but it is a challenge I’m hoping I can take up and succeed.

Sometimes, you look at situations and you don’t think you can scale through, but no matter what life throws at you, if you have trust in God, you can be sure to overcome, it does not matter what the challenge is. That for me is the biggest lesson that I have leant.

This experience has changed me in that I am more appreciative of life and I know that life is for the living. No condition is permanent. If you are going through difficult circumstances, just know that it is not forever and will be over some day. If you can be patient enough, just wait, it will fizzle out and you will be okay at the end of the day.

Be happy, know that your time on earth is short, so make the most of it. I’m not writing another article, but I’m planning to write a book, but this is not the time. It’s a story that is still building up, it’s a continuation and doesn’t just end now that I have overcome Ebola.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.