By SIMON EBEGBULEM, BENIN CITY
She was quite a pitiable sight when Vanguard Metro met her at the orthopedic section of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) Benin City. The 21-year-old Emilia George was a complete picture of helplessness after spending over eight months at the UBTH. The reason for this was not far to seek. She is more of a hostage at the hospital since she is not in a position to pay her bills and no one has come forward to do so on her behalf. And the hospital management, it will appear, is not in the mood to discharge the distraught young lady until this financial obligation is met.
Emilia is from Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State and was brought to the hospital on June 5, 2010, after a tipper ran over the Okada carrying her, very close to her house. She was rushed to the hospital unconscious but to the consternation of many, her sister whom she lived with in Benin City deserted her in the hospital. In order to save her life, her left hand was amputated. She was discharged last year October but has since then remained a guest of the hospital since she could not pay the N300,000 medical bill she incurred. Emilia is the first child of a family of five but lost her mum in 2007 and her dad when she was just five years old.
Apart from the N300,000, Vanguard Metro was told that she needs another N600,000 that would enable her obtain an artificial hand from the University Teaching Hospital Enugu (UNTH). Emilia lamented to Vanguard Metro that she would love to go back to school but she needs to survive first before she could do this. She is presently surviving through the assistance of good Samaritans. She told Vanguard Metro that she needs rehabilitation to enable her get a job and support her two younger brothers since the only sister she knew had abandoned her in the hospital.
It took several minutes of persuasion by Vanguard Metro before Emilia could bare her mind. She was initially shy but soon gave vent to her emotions as she wept bitterly.However, this reporter and other patients at the ward consoled her, advising that she should be calm since there is nothing God cannot handle. She picked up courage and spoke to Vanguard Metro about her problem. “My name is Emilia George from Akwa Ibom State. I had a bike accident at Ekenwan road. It was a Saturday afternoon; as we were coming out of the street, a tipper just came out and hit the bike and I fell; I was unconscious for sometime.
“I didn’t know how I got to this hospital; I have been here for six months. I was supposed to have been discharged but there is no money to clear my bills. I was staying with my aunt; she was working then but I can’t find her now. She has even packed out of where she was staying before. I have been staying with her for two years. She used to come here to see me but after sometime, she stopped coming. I have been surviving by public goodwill and help. I am 21 years. I was planning to take JAMB when the accident happened. My parents are late. I lost mum in 2007 and my dad died when I was five years. I am the only female in my family. I have two younger ones in the village; they live alone. When the accident happened the tipper driver brought me here. I was unconscious but I have not see him again since then. The hospital people said my bill is over N300,000, and I don’t know how to get him to help me pay the money. I use to see him before they amputated the hand, but all of a sudden, he stopped coming.
“Even social workers that come here have been calling him to come and pay my bills but we’ve not heard from him again. I was discharged in October last year and I was supposed to go for another operation which is skin grafting but since there is no money they have to suspend it but the hand is healing and I am okay now. But they said I need artificial hand and that will be done in Enugu but I don’t have the money. I need help, I am tired of staying here in one place, I want to leave here and think of how to start my life again. I will like to go back to school because I still believe that by the grace of God, I can still become something in life so that I can also help my younger ones”.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.