Saturday, 30 January 2016

Life for three-year-old Darasimi Ogunwunmi has
become a daily dose of agony and struggles for
survival.
Clinging to life at the Lagos University Teaching
Hospital, Idi-Araba Lagos, Darasimi’s survival has
been due to his sheer will to live, doctors say.
At the moment, doctors have said Darasimi would
require another round of surgery for the repair of
his throat and stomach which cumulatively would
cost about N2.5m.
The bouncing and active little boy, whose parents
referred to as the joy of their lives, has been
reduced to a sack of bone and skin as he is being
fed through a tube on his hospital bed.
Few months ago, Darasimi was a normal kid
running to school and running back home into the
arms of his mother; today he cannot even drink
water.
In November 2015, Darasimi, a Kindergarten One
pupil of Fahsal Children’s School, Ilupeju Estate,
Idiroko, Ogun State, drank caustic soda left lying
carelessly around his class while he was thirsty.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the proprietor of
Fahsal, Mrs. Fausat Abubakar, recently added soap
making into her line of business but rather than
remove the production far from the reach of her
pupils, the soap is being produced right beside
their classrooms.
On November 19, the worst happened when
Darasimi became thirsty and his teachers turned a
deaf ear to his incessant cry for water.
That day, Saturday PUNCH learnt that there was a
Parent-Teacher Association meeting at the school
during which it was announced that the school was
to commence soap-making in the school
premises.
Part of the caustic soda already mixed and left
around was what Darasimi drank from.
They only realised what had happened when the
boy was found outside his classroom crying and
bleeding from the mouth.
The boy’s mother, Toyin, a food vendor in the
area, said teachers in the school told her that liquid
caustic soda was left in a bowl and the boy took a
cup of what he thought was water and drank from
it.
The lethal liquid destroyed the boy’s throat and
stomach, doctors said.
According to a research report published by the
Sau Paulo Medical Journal, caustic substances
cause tissue destruction through liquefaction or
coagulation reactions.
Experts say caustic soda, which is also referred to
as sodium hydroxide or lye is an acid that breaks
down tissues faster than many other chemicals.
They say complications from drinking caustic soda
include esophagitis (inflammation of the
oesophagus), esophageal stenosis (a narrowing of
the lumen of the oesophagus that slows or impedes
the passage of fluid and foods) and progression to
cancer, fistulas, perforations, stomach lesions,
brain abscesses, and death.
Toyin said after her son drank the dangerous acid,
nobody from his school made any attempt to call
her or her husband until a boy arrived from school
and explained that something had happened to
Darasimi.
Toyin told Saturday PUNCH , “Darasimi goes to
school with another little boy every morning. It was
the little boy who came home and told us that
Darasinmi had been taken to the hospital. I could
not understand what the boy was saying because
none of his teachers called us to say anything was
wrong with him.
“I sell food around the school and could not
understand why nobody tried to even alert me to
what happened as his teachers took him to the
hospital.
“My husband and I rushed to the school and some
of his teachers said they were just about to call us.
I told them they were wicked people because they
only said that because they saw us.
“They told us he was at a hospital in Idiroko and
we rushed there. We found the proprietor with few
other teachers in the school. They were crying
when they saw us. I quickly grabbed the woman
and asked what had happened to my boy.”
Toyin and her husband rushed inside the hospital
to find their boy being treated by some doctors.
After a few hours, they were told to take the boy to
another General Hospital at Sango, it was learnt.
Toyin said they were about to board an ambulance
that would take them to the second hospital when
the proprietor of the school handed them N10,000
for the treatment of the boy.
“We quickly returned the money to her and told her
that we were in it together. She could not just hand
us N10,000 and say goodbye to us. We left for the
hospital together,” she said.
At Sango, the worried parents were told that the
hospital could not treat such an extensive problem.
They were referred to the Federal Medical Centre
in Abeokuta, where the boy was admitted and
treated for another six days. Again, the hospital
referred them for more advanced treatment at the
LUTH.
Toyin said, “We got to LUTH on November 26 and
after few days of treatment, they told us that we
needed N65,000 for an initial surgery, which was to
take place on December 1.
“A day before the surgery was supposed to take
place, we had not paid and we had borrowed from
everywhere we could turn to for the initial
treatment.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that around this time,
Darasimi started to take little quantity of tea. So,
doctors decided to watch him for a few days.
The boy’s parents said the proprietor made no
further attempt to call them while several attempts
to speak with her proved abortive as she no longer
picked their calls.
Toyin said, “Sometimes, frustration would force
me to call teachers of the school to ask of the
woman, they would say she had not been to the
school for a while. Sometimes, they would say she
was ill.
“We had to tell the doctors to discharge our son.
We could not work and there was no money to pay
for his treatment. Even the money for the hospital
bills was borrowed from the family of another
patient. We had to refund it after we got home.”
Few days after getting home, Saturday PUNCH
learnt that Darasimi could not ingest anything food
again and had to be taken to a health centre in
Idiroko.
When the boy’s situation worsened, he had to be
taken to the General Hospital, which admitted him
for two days before referring him back to LUTH.
At LUTH, doctors said it had become imperative for
the boy to undertake the initial surgery that was
put off as the parents run from pillar to post
praying for the survival of their son.
Toyin said Abubakar later sent N15,000 with
beverages to them for the care of the boy.
After borrowing money to add to the N15,000 the
proprietor sent to them, the Ogunwunmis paid
N65,000 for the surgery of their son, who nearly
died few hours before the surgery.
Saturday PUNCH learnt the boy was found
unresponsive on the morning of the day the
surgery was to take place. He was resuscitated
and the surgery took place later that evening.
Again, it was a tough battle rousing him from his
anesthetised sleep after the surgery.
But at the moment, the doctors said the boy needs
further comprehensive surgeries that will cost
N2.5m for him to survive.
Doctors, who spoke under a condition of
anonymity, said the boy would require at least two
more surgeries. They said the boy’s stomach and
oesophagus have to be reconstructed urgently.
“They are operations that require some urgency if
the boy is to survive. The boy is just lying here.
Other than just trying to stabilise him, nothing is
being done to his case because the funds are not
forthcoming. The parents just hang around crying,”
one doctor said.
Darasinmi now lies in the Ward E4 of LUTH with
uncertain fate.
His parents are apprehensive about where to get
such a huge amount of money as they are already
indebted heavily.
“Is it our fault that we sent our son to school? We
sent him to a private school because we wanted
the best education for him despite the fact that we
are struggling financially. But now, the school has
nearly killed him,” Toyin said.
When Abubakar was contacted, her daughter said
she left her phone at home and would contact our
correspondent herself.
By the following day when she had not, our
correspondent called her again, her phone number
was switched off. When our correspondent tried
calling her again on Friday and the call went
through, she did not pick it and neither did she
reply a message sent to her.
Our correspondent contacted the Ogun State
Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Modupe Mujota,
and realised that she had not got a report about
the incident.
“Please kindly send a short brief about the incident
to my phone. We will take action immediately,” the
commissioner said.
As of the time of filing this report, it is unclear what
action has been taken on the issue.
Meanwhile, the parents have opened a bank
account in the boy’s name to help raise money for
his surgery – FCMB account no: 3528300027;
account name: Darasinmi Ogunwunmi.
Source: Punch

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