As public health physician, Donald Nwosu battles a rare type of cancer, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, Martins Ifijeh chronicles his fight to overcome the deadly disease, adding that he urgently needs help in order to survive it
His mates are living their dreams across hospitals in Nigeria or in different communities, trying to save the world from diseases and other health challenges. But Donald Nwosu, a medical doctor is currently on sick bed, battling for his life at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, where he is being managed for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer.
Donald is 36 years old and desperately in need of a bone marrow transplant. Since August last year, he has spent over three million naira on purchase of drugs to manage the condition. He has exhausted his savings and currently running out of options; a scenario that unfortunately may make him not fulfill his life’s dream of saving the world if nothing is urgently done.
The definitive cure for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma is bone marrow transplant and it will cost him $86700 (N31, 212,000) in Apollo Clinic, India.
But some of his former class mates; Adanna Chukwuma of World Bank, Washington DC, Jac-Okereke Nonso, Uzoma Obiaka, Igwebike Ogochukwu, Nwanna Obieze, Esomonu Dozie and Chima Charles (all doctors) have started a fundraising campaign for his transplant since resources in Donald’s circle of family and close friends have been exhausted in chemotherapy that has twice failed to resolve the cancer.
They have been able to raise $25,000 (N9,000,000) through a Go-Fund Me Account they opened for him, but he still requires the sum of $61,700 (N22,212,000) for the entire procedure, which is scheduled to be done whenever the fund is ready.
But with the cancer already in stage three, there is only little time left to save Donald so he can in turn save the world through his profession. Stage four cancer is said to have only little possibility of cure.
According to experts, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is a group of blood cancers that includes all types of lymphoma except Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Symptoms generally include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, weight loss, and tiredness. Other symptoms may include bone pain, chest pain, or itchiness. The condition originates in the lymphatic system, the disease-fighting network spread throughout the body. Its tumor develops from lymphocytes-a type of white blood cell.
Speaking with THISDAY, Donald, who is from Imo State, said the issue started in June 2012 when he was undergoing his National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in a health facility in Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.
“I first noticed I was frequently having fever. So I started treating malaria. When I noticed the treatment wasn’t working, I decided to treat typhoid, but I noticed the more I treated, the more the fever continued. So suddenly I started loosing weight while my belly was protruding.
“It was at that point I decided to seek help. I went to National Hospital, Abuja, where I did my Houseman-ship. Diagnosis was done, and what they told me then was leukemia. They also said the increase in belly size was as a result of my spleen enlargement.
“I did a full blood count and the result was crazy. It was at that point I knew something terrible was going on. I was asked to start chemotherapy even though I will eventually need a bone marrow transplant for the cure, which will cost a lot of money. That was how the treatment started in 2012,” the public health physician said.
Since Donald could not raise the money for bone marrow transplant, he was then placed on drugs, whose single dose cost N350,000. “I was asked to take a single dose of Matera every 21 days, for a total of six times. A dose cost N350,000, but I became financially exhausted after four doses. At that point the symptoms had subsided. It was the cost of treatment that made me not finish the full dosage,” he said.
Donald, thereafter went back to work in Benue where his clinic was known to help people living with HIV/AIDS. He secretly always imagined where he would get the tens of millions of naira needed for the transplant.
“I had to remove my mind from it and focus on helping people in the clinic in Guma LGA, where I was eventually retained after NYSC. At that local government, the prevalence of HIV was high, so I was focused on giving treatments to these set of people. So many of them got better, while the ones that presented late couldn’t make it.”
Donald’s passion overwhelmed him all through the periods, until his body started to fail him again August last year. “By August 2016, I was back to the familiar scenario. I was told to immediately start another round of Matera drug of 600ml. At this point a 500ml vial of Matera cost N422,400. Which means to complete a single dose, I have to buy an additional 100ml vial, which cost N85,000. So all together a single dose, which is 600ml vial of Matera cost me N507,500. Every other 21 days I would have to take another dose of Matera, which is N507,500.”
Donald, who has spent several millions on Matera drugs alone since August last year, said there are other types of treatments that have taken a turn on both his personal finance, that of his family, as well as his friends; making him eventually exhausted and out of options. “This has somewhat resigned me to fate, except kindhearted Nigerians come to my aid, so I can undergo the definitive cure process, which is the bone marrow transplantation.
“The amount I have spent is also outside what my insurance cover. You know insurance only cover a little part of cancer treatment. One has to bear the major cost, which I’m eventually doing. But I want kindhearted Nigerians to come to my aid so I can fulfill my life’s dream. I know I have a whole lot ahead of me. I am a very optimistic person, and I know I will be back on my feet to live my childhood dream which is caring for people through medicine,” he said.
Donations can be made into his GoFundMe account http://bit.ly/SaveDonaldNWOSU; Paga for naira domiciled cards, http://bit.ly/SaveDonalDNwosu; or his direct bank account – Name: Nwosu Chinedu Donald, Account Number: 0028219856, Bank Name: GTB. He can be reached on his phone numbers: +2347062919937, +2348154342415.
While Donald’s story is heartbreaking and depicts pity that should spur governments, health bodies and well meaning Nigerians to save him from the pain, the story is one which should not be told by the media before Donald gets a solution to his problem.
In saner climes, he should have been saved from the chronic condition since 2012 when he first noticed it. He wouldn’t have had cause to solicit for $86700 to be able to live again.
Donald is just one among over two million Nigerians who are suffering from the pain of cancer, with majority unable to buy drugs not to talk of undergoing radiotherapy.
Worse still, among the few Nigerians who have been able to raise money for cancer treatment, the country does not have more than two radiotherapy machines working same time in the entire country that prides itself as the giant of Africa and the biggest economy in the continent. There are only nine radiotherapy machines in the entire country; a figure which is even only on paper, as no more than two of such machines work at a time in the country.