By Femi Aribisala
As Samson was a savior to Israel, so is Ameyo Adadevoh our savior in Nigeria.
I don’t like early-morning phone-calls, but this one was a distress-call from Femi-Kevin. “Do you know that the doctor at First Consultants that contracted Ebola is Dr. Adadevoh?” he asked. He had to tell me this twice because his call woke me up. I tried not to believe it. In a very selfish and foolish manner, I wished it were not her but someone else. But if it were someone else, that someone else would also be somebody.
We are used to bad things happening to others. Every day, someone is reported killed in the news. Some Chibok girls get kidnapped. A journalist’s head is chopped off. Some hapless Palestinians get bombed. Slowly, we become inured to this. We become abstracted from calamity until one day, it comes home to us. The news is about us, and not about someone else. The people concerned are our loved ones and not some abstract, distant person on our television and computer screens.
First Consultants Hospital, Obalende, Lagos, has been our family hospital for over thirty years. Ebola or no Ebola, it will continue to be our family hospital after all this tragedy is over and its decontamination is complete. It is a first-class hospital in a city where few hospitals are first-class. Femi-Kevin was born there 27 years ago. Some 15 years ago, I had a hernia surgery there, performed by the brother of the late Bola Ige.
Moreover, Dr. Adadevoh, Senior Consultant/Physician and Endocrinologist at First Consultants, was our family doctor. She was the first port of call many patients at the hospital. She oversaw my annual medical check-ups. She helped me manage my blood-pressure over the years. She had a Rolodex of the best specialist doctors in Nigeria that she would easily phone and link you up with in any emergency.
When I developed acute shoulder pain a few years back, she quickly linked me up with a specialist at LUTH. I did not know that our shoulders continue to grow even when we are older. When my wife had a medical crisis of a detached retina; it was also Dr. Adadevoh to the rescue; recommending specialists that would quickly perform the delicate surgery. When Femi-Kevin came down with a bout of acute malaria a year or two back, it was also Dr. Adadevoh who was on hand to treat him while he was hospitalized for days at First Consultants.
Cut above the rest
I don’t believe the lie that we must always say good things about the dead. When someone dies, people start making up all kinds of stories about him; saying how good and wonderful he was, even when this was not the case. I believe the truth must be told at all times. However, I also believe that, for some strange reason, it seems it is the best people who die prematurely. The wicked seem to live forever, while the righteous perish needlessly.
Dr. Adadevoh was an excellent doctor. Without a doubt, she was best-loved of all the doctors at First Consultants. You could reach her any day and any time. Even when she was on leave out of the country, she would take your calls and give you directives and recommendations.
But it was not just that she was an excellent doctor. I dare say there are many excellent doctors, even in Nigeria. Dr. Adadevoh had the distinction of being, at the same time, an excellent human-being. Many good doctors are grumpy. Not Dr. Adadevoh. Many good doctors make you reticent about going to the hospital. Many good doctors make you afraid of even the smallest ailments. Not Dr. Adadevoh.
She was a doctor, charged with treating the sick. Nevertheless, she was a breath of fresh air. She was very personable. She loved people and made you feel at ease, no matter your condition. She remembered every little detail about you, and about your family. She would talk to you about her son, and ask you about yours. She left you in no doubt that you had a doctor who is not only interested in your health but in you.
We had a dear friend, Mrs. Arinze, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She was hospitalized at First Consultants; although there was nothing medically that the doctors could do for her. It meant spending days on end at the hospital, building up her faith; singing praise songs; praying for divine healing. We lost her in the end. But Dr. Adadevoh was there with every possible care. She was there encouraging her husband, Emmanuel. She was there giving the support that goes beyond the medical; that reaches to the depths of the soul.
Hoping against hope
So that fateful morning when Femi-Kevin gave me the distressing news, I wanted it not to be true. Even now, I still find it hard to believe. Patients never imagine their doctors being sick. Dr. Adadevoh ministers to the sick; surely, she does not get sick as well.
So I googled her name for confirmation, and out came the news and also that haunting picture. One of her colleagues was appealing to the American government to send the miracle ZMapp drug that seemed to be working on the Ebola virus; claiming Dr. Adadevoh contracted the disease out of her love for humanity. Surely, such a person as this would not be allowed to die.
It was prayer time. It was time to call upon the name of the Lord for this virtuous woman. My wife leaves for work at 6.30 am in order to beat the Lagos traffic. I called her to tell her the news: “You won’t believe it. The First Consultants doctor with the Ebola virus is Doctor Adadevoh.” “Oh no!” cried Karen. “How can this be?”
That Saturday evening, the news on the internet told a different story. It said Dr. Adadevoh is the first Nigerian healed of Ebola. It said she had been discharged from the isolation ward; and we started dancing for joy. At our Sunday fellowship the next morning, we were lavish in praises to God. Is this not yet another one of his miracles? Is this not another example of his marvelous providence? Indeed, God’s ways are unsearchable.
But by nightfall, news came that it had been one big mistake. The person healed was apparently not Dr. Adadevoh, but one Dr. Adah. By the next morning, the thing we feared had come to pass. Dr. Adadevoh had gone home to be with the Lord.
As more and more news came concerning the passing of this virtuous woman, I came to the conclusion that she had been appointed for this very purpose. Apparently, Dr. Adadevoh had to physically restrain Patrick Sawyer from discharging himself from First Consultants; having been diagnosed he was suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease. In the process, she contracted the disease herself.
Therefore, rather than wallow in sadness, we need to give thanks to God for Dr. Adadevoh. We need to thank God that Patrick Sawyer, who brought this dreadful disease to Nigeria, went to First Consultants. Only God knows what would have happened if he had gone to one of our General Hospitals. We might have had an epidemic in our hands already.
We need to thank God that it was Dr. Adadevoh who attended to him. Here was a doctor seasoned in public service who truly lived the Hippocratic Oath. We need to thank God that Dr. Adadevoh physically prevented Sawyer from going to T.B. Joshua in Synagogue, or to some ECOWAS conference in Calabar.
There is an Old Testament prophesy by Obadiah that “saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau.” As Samson was a savior to Israel, so is Ameyo Adadevoh our savior in Nigeria. Hers is the glorious death of the righteous that died that many might live. Dr. Adadevoh will forever be remembered for this in Nigeria; and our heartfelt prayers remain for the family and relations she left behind; especially her beloved son who is studying abroad.
Doctors like Adadevoh are a rare breed. She was compassionate, dedicated and highly professional. She was also very cheerful; a necessary attribute in a doctor. It is my firm belief that her soul rests in perfect peace.
Fear of Ebola
Nigerians, and especially Lagosians, need to know that Ebola is a viral infection. Skin and eyes are the suggested routes of viral entry as well as food and water. Therefore, proper hygiene, including the washing of hands with alcohol-based sanitisers, and disinfecting of surfaces, is advised.
A virus is a living organism. It lives in a host. Without the host, it will die itself. Therefore, within a certain number of days of quarantine, whatever Ebola virus Patrick Sawyer brought to First Consultants will be gone. It would be double jeopardy to now ostracise this fine hospital. It would be unfortunate to typecast it as an Ebola Hospital. Therefore, the Minister of Health needs to make a big gesture of re-opening the hospital publicly after its decontamination.
It would also not be remiss for the government to give some compensation to First Consultants, in appreciation for the role it has played in this Ebola saga, and the cost this has brought to the hospital. We must make a point of rewarding genuine service in Nigeria; rather than the penchant we have of giving national merit awards to discredited politicians and coup-plotters. We owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh; and many other doctors like her in the length and breadth of Nigeria.
We are not yet out of the woods. Ebola has become an epidemic in our sub-region; and we know Nigerians are everywhere. We cannot ask a Nigerian with Ebola not to return to Nigeria. But we can be extra-vigilant with everyone entering Nigeria. We must also remember that people don’t only return to Nigeria through our airports. Nigeria has porous borders. In any case, every preparation must be made now for an Ebola epidemic in Nigeria; even as we do our level best to prevent its occurrence.