From Paralysis To PhD – the story of a sickle cell warrior, as told by his mum

Your Child Has Only Three Days To Live, doctors at ABUTH told Mrs. Fagbamigbe

A Mum’s Testimonial on the administration of a supplement she’d never heard of, on a very desperate occasion …
By Ayoola Olajide, General Editor, Sickle Cell News

The doctors gave out no hope about my son ever recovering from his paralysis – he had a few days to live anyway. I felt we had nothing to lose in trying out the product.

Madam, Please introduce yourself:
My names are Bolutife Fagbamigbe***. I am 61 years old. My husband and I knew nothing about genotype when we got married so long ago. I am a pensioner and I love to farm as a hobby.

At what age was your son diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia?
He was diagnosed in September 1979, when he was just six weeks old. The haematology report said: SS+F. I still don’t know what it means.

What were the circumstances of his diagnosis?
We went for BCG when he was six weeks old. Immediately after that, he had what I later knew to be ‘sickle cell crisis’. I took him back to the Teaching Hospital. His blood level had dropped drastically. He was transfused. Later, tests were carried out and I was told he was SS.

Do you have family members with sickle cell?
Yes, my step-sisters. I think my parents were carriers – most of us have the problem.

While growing up, your son received blood transfusion roughly every three months. For how long did this take place?
This is a period that I don’t like to recall … We were so well-known in the hospital that a bed was always on reserve for him in Ward 3, at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. One of such times, I rushed him to hospital in the night, and they tried to save his life by rushing blood transfusion. It was midnight. By about 2 am, he was yellowish all over and weak. He couldn’t even cry, or suck. I called the nurse twice, she didn’t come. I yelled louder, bothered that the child was not sucking. So the nurse came and rushed out to fetch the doctor. Quickly, they disconnected the blood transfusion paraphernalia. They didn’t tell me anything; they asked me to move away. In my presence, the nurse removed all papers from my son’s folder and burned everything. She was so restless. I didn’t know what was happening until days later:

They had transfused my son hepatitis-tainted blood! Altogether, we spent five months at ABUTH, at their expense … There were no explanations, and no apologies. They probably viewed me as an illiterate who knew nothing…

What would you consider his most memorable SCD crisis?
Our most memorable sickle cell crisis happened during his first year in the university. While preparing for exam, he moved to the campus. He wrote one or two papers and lapsed into sickle cell crisis. Hospitalized, he received 8 pints of blood transfusion, yet no good result. His head was big with fluid trapped inside, his stomach was swollen, his eyes were deep yellowish, urine was the same. His breathing was difficult. From the waist down, he could not move. He was no longer in control of his body system – urine and stool. It was a long battle. The doctors held several meetings over the situation. They tried everything in their medical repertoire, but no success.

One day, a doctor called me and ordered me to take him home.

‘Your son has just 3 more days to live,’ he said.

Why did the hospital give you minutes to vacate the premises?
The hospital gave me 15 minutes to leave because I was reluctant to so do. I kept begging them to allow me stay so that my son can die there in the hospital!


How did you cope with the challenge of raising a child with sickle cell anaemia?

When I look back at the situation, I can only say it is God. I can’t explain how I coped. I feel very bad for bringing a child into the world with this kind of problem. So I am worried for those who don’t know about it and are getting married.

Who introduced Jobelyn to you – and when?
We were on the ambulance taking us back home when the driver told me about an advert on the pages of Tell Magazine. It was about a product known as Jobelyn. The doctors gave out no hope about my son ever recovering from his paralysis – he had a few days to live anyway. I felt we had nothing to lose in trying out the product.

On Jobelyn, how long did it take before you started noticing results?
It took the product just took two weeks to restore power and movement to the paralysed limbs. Not long thereafter, he was able to walk around – and run. He regained full bowel and urine control – we were free at last!

He returned to university and graduated B.Sc Zoology in 2002.

He did have blood transfusion now and then, sometimes he would be receiving transfusion right in the exam hall – he insisted on going to sit for his papers, otherwise he would not cooperate with the doctors. He passed out in flying colours.

Today, my son has a PhD in Biology. To God be the Glory!

***not her real names

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