The survivors of the Ebola Virus Disease have narrated their experiences, speaking of the trauma they went through and how Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who brought the virus to Nigeria, lied to health workers who attended to him.
Dr. Morris Ibeabuchi, one of the first Nigerian doctors in contact with Mr. Sawyer, said on Thursday he got the virus because the index case, Mr. Sawyer, lied about his illness in the hospital.
Mr. Ibeabuchi said he was the first doctor to receive Mr. Sawyer to the hospital and said the failure of the Liberian to disclose his actual state of health in the hospital made him believe he was down with a minor illness and that encouraged him to have close contact with the Liberian.
The doctor spoke when he and four other survivors were received by Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State.
Mr. Ibeabuchi explained that Mr. Sawyer and the ECOWAS official who brought him to the hospital never told him he had Ebola or that he collapsed at the airport as a result of his ill health.
“I was the first person that received Patrick Sawyer the day he was rushed to the hospital. I was talking to him on the sick bed and being a doctor, you just have to examine your patient.
“After much examination, I asked him the cause of his problem but he lied to me. Even the ECOWAS protocol officer who came with him did not say anything.
“Sawyer lied that he was in a conference and that he was weak and was rushed to the hospital as a result. He never told me he had Ebola and that he collapsed at the Airport.
“I took his samples and took it to late Dr. Stella Adedevoh and results later showed that he had Ebola even as another ECOWAS protocol officer actually confirmed that Sawyer actually collapsed at the airport,” he said.
Mr. Ibeabuchi said he started developing Ebola symptoms after Sawyer’s death and that he was later quarantined at the Isolation Centre in Yaba.
The doctor said it was by the grace of God and the efforts of health workers at the facility that he survived, adding his coming out was still a miracle.
“My surviving the virus is still a miracle because at a particular time when the stooling and vomiting was much I thought the end had come.
“But today I am the happiest person on earth because I survived it. I thank God for today and thank the state governor for all he did for us,’’ he said.
Another survivor, Dr Akininiyi Fadipe, who also had contact with Sawyer at First Consultant hospital said he thought he had malaria when he actually had the virus.
He said it was after a series of test that the he was actually told he was suffering from the virus.
Mr. Fadipe said the news devastated him and he thought he could not survive it especially as the virus was haemorrhagic in nature.
“I was so devastated but kept the faith. It was at a time of the doctor’s strike and the few doctors around kept encouraging us. I thank God today and my surviving the problem has proven that Ebola is not a death sentence,” he said.
Mr. Dennis Echelonu another survivor who lost his nurse wife to the virus said his contracting the virus was out of his struggles to save the life of his dying wife.
“My case was different, I wasn’t among the doctors. My wife Justina Echelonu happened to be one of the nurses that cared for the index case.
“It was while I was trying to care for her to save her life that I was infected with the virus. But I thank God for everything and the state government for seeing to our case.
“Only God knew why what happened but we thank God we are out of it,” he said.
Adaora Igonor, who also contracted the virus at First Consult Hospital, said workers at the hospital took a big risk to save the life of Sawyer and humanity.
Kelechi Enemuo, who contracted the disease from her late doctor’s husband in Port Hacourt, thanked the state government for its support.
She said the government’s support had been most consoling especially as she lost her husband to the disease.
Speaking, Mr. Fashola thanked the survivors for coming out to share their experiences, adding that their surviving the disease had again proven that Ebola was not a death sentence.
The governor said he decided to host the survivors to send a message that early treatment was essential to combating the disease and that stigmatisation of survivors was not necessary.
Mr. Fashola said it was unfortunate that some of the survivors got the virus in the course of their work but urged them to draw courage from their experience and serve humanity better.
“We sympathise with you for the trauma that you went though. Perhaps it was avoidable. But I am sure that hard lessons have been learnt.
“Beyond that, I must congratulate you the survivors of the EDV. I felicitate with you and members of your family and friends.
“But most importantly, I thank you so much for coming forward because you took a great thing and you showed so much courage. And you have helped us to take next step forward. And you have helped us to put an end to the spread of the EVD.
“I am sure that from today, people watching and listening to you especially those that are victims, wherever they maybe, will be encouraged to come forward, and seek help. And that people who stigmatise can change their approach.
Sick people need help, care, love and affection. They did not need to be discriminated.
“Perhaps many of those who stigmatise people with disease will learn from the testimonies that you have given about people like Dr. David. He risked everything so that you all can be alive.
“That is the way we should behave as human beings. The truth is that this will not be the last infectious disease that human civilization will experience.
“In a global world, the list will not end. It is courageous men and women like Dr. David, organisations like the CDC and WHO, Ministry of Health and health workers like you who must lead that charge to confront such diseases,”