Faced with death in an isolated and dank ward in Lagos, A young doctor recounts the moment she contracted the virus, watching colleagues die in front of her and how she triumphed in the end.
You’ve never met Dr Ada Igonoh, but her story is about to shake your faith and outlook in life.
The young doctor was one of the doctors who came in contact with Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian diplomat who brought the Ebola virus to Nigeria.
Dr Igonoh contracted the deadly disease along with her boss Dr Ameyoh Adadevoh and two other nurses, all of whom were employees at First Consultant Hospital, where Sawyer was rushed to after feeling unwell at Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos.
In a detailed and stark article on Bella Naija, the young doctor gives a stark account of what it means to have Ebola in Nigeria, the response of the authorities and how her faith and positive outlook to life pulled her through.
Her story details how the victims came into contact with Sawyer who was reportedly uncooperative with staff, at one point spraying his blood on a pregnant nurse after pulling out his IV fluid. The nurse, Justina Ejelonu would later die after suffering a miscarriage as a result of contracting Ebola.
In a rare glimpse of what went on in the isolation ward at LUTH. where Ebola victims were quarantined, Dr Igonoh tells of the depressing conditions of the facilities and testing times after watching colleagues including Dr Adadevoh succumb to the deadly virus.
Showing steely resolve, Dr Igonoh relied on her faith to keep her going. “Every morning, I began the day with reading and meditating on Psalm 91. The sanitary condition in the ward left much to be desired. The whole Ebola thing had caught everyone by surprise. Lagos State Ministry of Health was doing its best to contain the situation but competent hands were few. The sheets were not changed for days,” she said.
“The floor was stained with greenish vomitus and excrement. Dr. David would come in once or twice a day and help clean up the ward after chatting with us. He was the only doctor who attended to us. There was no one else at that time. The matrons would leave our food outside the door; we had to go get the food ourselves. They hardly entered in the initial days. Everyone was being careful. This was all so new. I could understand, was this not how we ourselves had contracted the disease? Mosquitoes were our roommates until they brought us mosquito nets.”
In another excerpt, Dr Igonoh recounts how detailed research in moments of desperation gave her the strength to carry on. “My research gave me ammunition,” she said.
“I read that as soon as the virus gets into the body, it begins to replicate really fast. It enters the blood cells, destroys them and uses those same blood cells to aggressively invade other organs where they further multiply. Ideally, the body’s immune system should immediately mount up a response by producing antibodies to fight the virus. If the person is strong enough, and that strength is sustained long enough for the immune system to kill off the viruses, the patient is likely to survive. If the virus replicates faster than the antibodies can handle however, further damage is done to the organs. Ebola can be likened to a multi-level, multi-organ attack but I had no intention of letting the deadly virus destroy my system. I drank more ORS. I remember saying to myself repeatedly, “I am a survivor, I am a survivor.”
Read the full article on Bella Naija.