L-R, Prudence, Prudence’s sisters, Precious and Peace
A 13-year-old girl, Prudence, the last of the triplet born to Unaidet family from Akwa Ibom State has been bedridden for 12 years. After exhausting the family’s financial resources, the parents now seek help to enable Prudence live a normal life, writes Chinyere Okoye
Prudence is the third child of the female triplets; Precious, Peace and Prudence were born at the University College Hospital (U.C.H) Ibadan on May, 29, 1999 to Kendrick and Nkechi Unaidet.
Their growing up was free of any problem until December 2001, when the third, Prudence, took ill as a result of a fever associated with high temperature. “When she started having high temperature at aged two, we gave her paracetamol thinking that it was just an ordinary fever,” Mrs. Unaidet, the mother of the sick child said.
According to the parents, “We bathed her with cool water, thinking it was just ordinary heat and the dry season, but the fever did not leave her, so we sought help at the hospital. That was how it all started.”
Prudence was admitted at the pediatric Neurology unit of U.C.H on December 2, 2001 where she was diagnosed and treated for spinal meningitis and subsequent viral encephalitis. In 2005, a cranial CT scan was carried out on Prudence and her condition diagnosed as communicating hydrocephalus.
Following the diagnosis, Prudence was referred to the Neuro-Surgery unit for further examination and treatment, which included brain surgeries.
According Unaidet, a detailed cost of treatment was given by the hospital on April 20, 2006 and payment of this estimate duly made but the hospital didn’t carry out the treatment as expected and after this, things turned ugly. “The treatment did not commence, rather, our baby was abandoned on a hospital bed for over two weeks without medication. We observed there were injuries on her as a result of convulsion, a development that contradicts pediatric prescription which states that what the child needs include regular anticonvulsant drugs.
On June 27, 2006, Unaidet wrote a petition to the hospital management after exhausting all efforts to draw the ward physician’s attention to the plight of the child. “On June 29, 2006, the
response we had was conflicting and beyond our worst imagination. Her diagnosis record was once again changed to that of severe cerebral malformation.”
The previous year, November 2005 precisely, Uniadet recalled that when he had sought more details about the predicament of his child, he had been briefed by the hospital that the reason for the abnormal size of the child’s head was due to the occupation ‘mask fluid’ in the brain and that the tube which performed the function of fluid drainage from the brain was blocked due to persistent subsequent convulsion that accompanied her sickness and that there is unusual growth in the brain, which was the reason she required a surgical operation to correct those abnormalities.
The new diagnosis also allegedly contradicted the features of various cranial scans earlier conducted on Prudence, which indicated a proportional increment of hydrocephalus fluid in the child’s brain.
“All effort including contacting the office of Director of Medical Services at the Federal Ministry of Health, in Abuja did not yield any positive result,” he said.
Though several acts of mismanagement were allegedly committed in the course of prudence’s treatment, it is believed that appropriate medical intervention will restore her back to a normal life.
Uniadet believed that the major reason observed for the conflicting diagnosis of his daughter’s condition is due to financial constraints. This observation was reportedly established in 2006, when a professor and senior consultant neurological surgeon at UCH, Adefolarin Malomo, stated that it was going to be a high risk to commence any brain surgery on the child if enough funds were not raised.
Malomo later referred Prudence’s case to the head, department of Pediatric Neuro-Surgery, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Malomo described Prudence as having a four-year history of recurrent seizures and head enlargement.
“I have not been a happy mother since Prudence got sick in 2001. We are faced with various difficulties and constraints, in our several attempts to find solution to her illness. My joy was fulfilled when through thick and thin we managed to scale through the hurdles of nursing them up to that age. To me God was wonderful and we were happy that the battle was over, but no, we are surprised that a fever could lead to all the funny diagnosis this hospital has given to my daughter’s illness.
What more can i say than to appeal to all mothers to please share their joy of motherhood with me in this situation. Prudence, my daughter is a 13-year-old teenager, whom fate has singled out of a set of triplet to be dealt a cruel blow, severely stunting her growth and subjecting her to a life of misery and pains. She is completely incapacitated and bedridden. Precious and Peace are well-formed and are growing well. They are in Senior Secondary School I (SS1), but they are disturbed and look forward to when their sister Prudence would recover and join them in living a normal life. They will be fulfilled to have spirited Nigerians come to the aid of their sister,” said Mrs. Unaidet in an emotional laden tone.
Kendrick, her husband says, “medical support can do more to improve the living condition of this girl at least to bring her to a point where we can wheel her out and back home. It has been so expensive treating Prudence’s ailment. We have spent over N7million on her, since the sickness started in 2001.
“The most important step we need to take now is to present her to a more competent hospital for appropriate evaluation and treatment. This we hope will underscore the process of her gradual recovery.
We have contacted the overseas hospital personally and also through a USA based NGO and confirmed that the sum of $200,000 would be required for her treatment.”
This estimate was in 2010. Expectedly, this sum is out of reach for the Unaidets who barely survive on their petty business. Unaidet, an electrician lost his job due to frequent absence from work while running around to take care of his daughter.
In spite of that, the family still needs to spend an average of N40, 000 monthly to feed and provide some level of remedial treatment for the child. They have therefore resorted to seeking help from the public.
In the meantime, the John Hopkins University is already asking the poor family to run a fresh medical review in order to ascertain the current state of the child’s health, this is also coming at an additional cost, which the family cannot afford. This is why they have decided to bring Prudence’s case before the public for such assistance that could make her live a normal life.