Despite the police announcing it had commenced investigations into the #SaveMayowa fundraising campaign, controversy has continued to trail the initiative which was aimed at raising overseas medical fees for Mayowa Ahmed, a cancer patient receiving treatment at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
On Thursday, police officers broke up a heated exchange outside the hospital between the patient’s relatives and some social media campaigners who helped raise funds running into millions of naira for Ms. Ahmed’s treatment.
“The Command wishes to inform all the good spirited people who had donated generously to this course that it will ensure it does not return as a hoax and every outcome of the investigation shall be made open,” Dolapo Badmus, the Lagos police spokesperson, said while announcing a “full scale” investigation and a freezing of the campaign’s bank account.
Ms. Ahmed, 31, had a history and clinical features of an intra-abdominal mass, according to LUTH, where she was a patient.
She was brought to the hospital’s private wing on Monday, but barely 24 hours later, her family insisted on flying her outside the country, stalling “all the planned investigations meant to arrive at a definite diagnosis,” the hospital said.
“The family and the patient brought along some results of laboratory investigations ordered and done outside LUTH.
“Three different Specialists were invited to review Mayowa. The Gynaecologist, Oncologist and Haematologist all arrived at a tentative diagnosis of an abdominal malignancy.
“They planned to conduct a series of fresh tests to confirm the definitive diagnosis, since the earlier tests were neither requested nor authorised by any doctor from LUTH.”
Ms. Ahmed’s condition prompted an online campaign supported by Nollywood actress, Toyin Aimakhu, with the hashtag #SaveMayowa aimed at raising money for her treatment abroad.
The hashtag gained popularity on social media during the week, and by Wednesday, over N30 million had been raised, according to sources close to the patient’s family.
But trouble began on Thursday when the social media campaigners alleged that the initiative had been a scam because the patient’s family had known she was “beyond help.”
Angry campaigners and donors stormed the hospital to confront Ms. Ahmed’s relatives and it took police intervention to calm frayed nerves.
The patient’s name, Mayowa, trended on Twitter throughout Thursday with over 11,000 mentions.
According to Aramide Kasunmu, one of those who led the social media campaign, the family had said they had contacted Emory Hospital in US and needed $100,000 for overseas treatment.
“I went on social media and Kate Henshaw was asking questions,” Ms. Kasunmu, founder of Lifestake Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation,” said in a video she posted on Facebook.
“She was saying ok where’s the visa? Where’s the ticket? Where’s this where’s that? And I’m like okay, that’s true, I haven’t even seen those things.
“So I went back to the Emory Hospital’s list to see exactly what it is that they wrote there. And I realised that what they said was a $100,000 deposit, and it will cost between 3,000 to 30,000 to get her treated. And she needs 10 to 50 sessions. So technically, Mayowa needs over 150 million to be treated if she has to be treated in Atlanta.
“But then when the doctor (at LUTH) said that she cannot fly, in his words she can’t even fly to Abuja let alone America, 13 hours. I said okay something isn’t adding up.
“And then on Monday, Toyin Aimakhu had gone up, it had gone viral and everything. And because I had posted it, I went on Facebook and I told my friends to not get me involved in anything that belongs to Mayowa, basically like a disclaimer.”
Ms. Kasunmu said she received a phone call from LUTH on Wednesday informing her that Ms. Ahmed was leaving the hospital.
“And I said how come? They said the family said they want to take her abroad. That she was flying yesterday (Wednesday) night, 6pm. Meanwhile they’d told Toyin Aimakhu that they were taking her to Reddington.”
“My concern is, I need to be sure that these people are actually getting Mayowa treated, that they are not just trying to take advantage of her situation, which is my fight. Because you got me involved, people are asking questions and I cannot answer. I sent Mayowa messages she wasn’t responding. I called her phones nobody was saying anything to me.”
On Thursday morning, Ms. Kasunmu said she asked a colleague to go to Ms. Ahmed’s home.
“She got to the house and said there was nobody at home,” Ms. Kasunmu continued.
“She called the brother and they said they were at LUTH, she got to LUTH they did not let her see Mayowa, so she waited.
“I told her that she must wait, they said their brother came that they were bringing an air ambulance. We all know air ambulances are not cheap. I said ok that she must wait for that air ambulance, she must see the air ambulance take Mayowa and she must video it so that I can at least say you guys are asking me questions, see Mayowa she has travelled. That was my intention.
“Then she said her brother wasn’t talking to her, that the brother said they have given a statement and nobody should get involved in their case.
“I was like, we raised money from the public, we had stood in front for you guys, how can you guys say that we should no longer get involved? That was when the alarm bells went off.”
Ms. Kasunmu said the campaign raised N85 million, and not N30 million as claimed by Ms. Ahmed’s family.
“They said they have a visa when they didn’t have a visa. They solicited funds that they were going to America, now they are saying they are going to Dubai. A lot of things were not adding up and they were not being straightforward.”
Ms. Aimakhu corroborated most of what Ms. Kasunmu said, adding that things got dramatic on Thursday after the patient’s family insisted she leave the hospital despite her efforts in helping raise funds for treatment.
“There’s nobody I didn’t call,” Ms. Aimakhu told Y’Naija on Thursday, of her efforts at fundraising.
“(I) called E-Money, called Okorocha’s so, called AY, called everybody. Only for me to get here, after they’ve gotten the money….
“Something just came to my mind there is something, how can you help people raise money and you are saying…. no, there’s more to this.
“And yesterday, a lot of people called me, that they privatised their account. I had to call them that they should not put the account on private.
“They said I did not help her (Ms. Ahmed) to raise money, that I only came to visit her.”
But a person close to Ms. Ahmed’s family, Kunle Oduah, accused Ms Kasunmu and Ms. Aimakhu of trying to hijack the campaign.
“Tomorrow they will come and claim they are standing for women’s rights,” Mr. Oduah wrote on Facebook, while posting photos of himself and Ibrahim Ahmed, Ms. Ahmed’s brother.
“The fact behind the girl’s ordeal was that the lady called Aramide Kasunmu of Lifestake foundation approached the family that she is floating an NGO, asked them to open the account on her foundation account and the family refused bluntly.
“She was the one that called Toyin Aimaku to appear at the hospital as a celebrity to boost the donation, with promise of giving her some incentives.
“That was why they were accusing the family of not letting them to know how the money would be used.”
Mr. Oduah said people had kept donating to the #SaveMayowa campaign despite the family already meeting the target.
“That’s humanity,” he said.
“Those who did it sowed a seed of faith on her strength to pull through. Why try to ruin that? And most of this is caused by illiteracy.”
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