Health

June 29, 2019

Abuja surgeons restore mobility for spinal injury patient

Abuja surgeons restore mobility for spinal injury patient

Abuja surgeons restore mobility for spinal injury patient

By Sola Ogundipe

A team of Nigerian surgeons has restored hope for Sendi Joseph, a 26-year-old who was paraplegic (paralysed from waist down) and wheelchair bound after falling off a ladder while working on a very high ceiling in a building in Abuja.

Abuja surgeons restore mobility for spinal injury patient

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It was April 30, 2019 when Sendi who had been working till the wee hours came on the verge of permanent disability as a result of the incident but for timely intervention by the Brain & Spine surgery consortium (BASS) team, led by Neurosurgeon, Dr Biodun Ogungbo, a team of empathetic rehabilitative staff that helped to regain his mobility.

Knocked unconscious after losing his footing on the ladder and landing on his backside, he lost all sensation from his waist down.

He could not walk, and lost control of all voluntary muscles around his bladder and bowels.

Sendi was initially rushed to three different hospitals but was rejected for one reason or the other. One of the hospitals could not manage spinal injury, the other had no bed to admit him and yet another was too expensive.

Sendi was eventually   referred to BASS and went through emergency surgery the next day. He suffered a broken spine and complete spinal cord injury.During the surgery, doctors relieved pressure on his spine and his bones were stabilised but there was no hope of recovery of sensation or movement in his legs.

The surgeons placed him on active and rehabilitation, physiotherapy and expert nursing care.

Remarkably, fortune smiled on him and he started noticing movement in his legs within a few weeks. From then on, his recovery was in leaps and bounds. Sendi was saved from uncertain life of lower body paralysis. He didn’t have to fly abroad, but was treated in Abuja where skilled neurosurgeons performed a complicated surgery at an affordable cost. Within four days, he left the hospital and was walking without aid in six weeks.

Today, he has full function of his legs and even plays football. All his normal sensations are restored. He has gained full control of his bowel and bladder function and has normal erection.

Findings reveal that the BASS initiative in Abuja, started off as a special purpose vehicle to make spine surgery acceptable in Nigeria.

Dr Biodun Ogungbo, a Consultant Neurosurgeon, remarked that spine surgery is now available in Nigeria to the tune of the same quality available abroad.

“We came into the picture in 2015 to promote spine surgery and help reverse medical tourism into Abuja. The business was called “Spine Fixed in Abuja”. This was essentially to demonstrate clearly that spine surgery can be performed safely in Abuja and   Nigeria as a whole.

Ogungbo said they have achieved that purpose as spine surgery is now attractive and many more surgeons have joined in providing exemplary services to the Nigerian patient.

“We made spine surgery sexy! BASS is focussed on improving outcomes in brain and spine surgery through collaborations with other hospitals and specialists. We regularly publish our outcomes, morbidity and mortality with emphasis on doing better through this simple audit of practice.”

He noted that many hospitals in Nigeria do not collect or report such outcomes data and BASS is hoping to blaze the trail.

“It is vitally important and the transparency will improve local confidence. This story is typical of the great and sometimes miraculous recoveries that can occur once care is provided in a timely and efficient manner.”