By Yemisi Sulaiman
Chioma Echedom is in dilemma. Her 8-week-old son, Chukwuemeka, has been diagnosed with a hole in his heart even as his lungs are not connected to his heart.
Chukwuemeka urgently requires a corrective surgery in India at an estimated cost of N7 million.
A medical report signed by Dr O.J. Sokunbi, a Consultant Paediatrician/Paediatric Cardiologist, at LUTH, confirmed the diagnosis of symptomatic congenital heart disease, confirmed by echocardiography to be Transposition of Great Arteries with large sub- pulmonic Ventricular Septal Defect and severe pulmonary stenosis.
The infant requires further cardiovascular evaluation and possible open heart surgery to correct the defects in order to forestall irreversible and life threatening complications.
The toddler’s parents, who can’t afford to foot the bill have sent a distress call to all Nigerians to come to their aid and save their only son’s life . Narrating her ordeal to Features Health & Living, Chioma said few weeks after giving birth to the baby, she noticed his breathing was faster than normal.
“I alerted the doctors, but they said it was okay since I just gave birth to him. But the breathing was too fast and in my mind I knew something was wrong.”
It was at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, that the diagnosis of a hole-in-the heart was made. According to Chioma, it was a complicated issue, because the lungs are also not connected to the heart.
“His breathing is not normal like he struggles to breathe, like someone struggling for life. His weight is also really reducing.
“He cannot suckle on my breasts normally because suckling is a strain on his lungs. So I feed him by squezing breastmilk into a cup for him to drink.”
She said when the baby was initially placed on oxygen for two weeks while on admission at LUTH, the breathing normalised for a little while.
Chioma said the family has been running from pillar to post to raise money for the life-saving surgery, but without much success.
“All those that promised us said they would get back to us but nothing has come through so far. My husband went to Kanu Heart Foundation on 18th Dec 2017, at their office in Ikeja. He was asked to register for N15,000, which he did because we are desperate for a solution.
“But we got to know thereafter that the Foundation is handicapped with funding and that about 400 people were on the waiting list. He left that office without solution and N15,000 poorer.”
Although there is no specific deadline for the surgery, Chioma said they were advised to do it as soon as possible.
“LUTH initially said we have to conduct the surgery within eight weeks to improve his chances of survival. It is a surgery that still has to be done quickly.”
According to Chioma, India is currently the only option. I need help. It’s a life and death situation. I need people to help me, I need someone that God can use to help me save the life of my only child,” she pleaded. Donations can be sent to Nwogu Felicity. C., 6231013782 Fideity Bank . Call 08170145224 for further details.