Found with sickle cell anaemia at the age of two (Massey Street Children’s Hospital, Lagos Island) I remember having my first blood transfusion at the age of six. This was at the then Baptist Hospital Ogbomoso (now Bowen University Teaching Hospital). At that age and by the time I clocked 10, a gloomy interpretation of life had etched itself in my consciousness: life was a drama of pain and health an occasional episode.
Over the years, what with frequent attacks of malaria, I had blood transfused now and then like once in every three or four years. In those days, the cynosure of negative extended family attention, the one for whom the word goes out about being in emergency need of blood, I likened myself to an old lorry, a headache to its driver, a liability to its owner!
I took blood on several occasions at the Baptist Hospital, Ogbomoso, at the General Hospital, Ogbomoso, at Labi Hospital, Ilupeju, Lagos and at Adesola Clinic, Bariga, Lagos.
A lucky introduction to Jobelyn, while I was on admission at Adesola Clinic once again, marked a turning point in my proclivity to live on other people’s blood.
It was 2004. I was on admission for malaria, typhoid fever and, at a PCV of 11%, dangerously short of blood. I was listless as I heard the doctor tell my wife I needed urgently to have blood.
Prior to my admission, I couldn’t take 10 steps without pausing to rest for a few minutes. A bit of exertion left me breathless, heaving and gasping. Extreme tiredness is evil.
My wife offered to donate her own blood, but the doctor refused. Then, speaking her thoughts, she complained half to herself and half to those within hearing range, that she was tired of ‘blood today, blood tomorrow’. She had only seen me take blood once but that was once too many times for her.
Calling her aside, a woman whose child was also on admission, asked my wife to go buy Jobelyn and administer it thrice daily. On the woman’s recommendation, my wife insisted I be discharged, which the hospital did, reluctantly, but not before making her sign papers absolving management of responsibility for whatever happened afterwards.
Within 10 days of taking the nutritional supplement, my Hb level rose to 27%. I, that couldn’t take more than a handful of steps without being deathly breathless, now took brisk walks and sprinted without a hint of fatigue. It was nothing short of a miracle!
I took part in the Jobelyn clinical trials at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in 2012. There, senior nurses at the haematology clinic told of comatose SCD patients with severe anaemia brought back to life within days by the administration of Jobelyn.
It is 18 years now and I have not taken anyone’s blood – the vampire I used to consider myself. Thus, whenever Nigeria’s respected SCD czar, haematology Professor Olu Akinyanju describes Jobelyn as ‘absolutely useless’ for sickle cell, I used to shake my head at the disservice he is doing to the SCD community and indeed to the continent. We Africans don’t value anything African!
Jobelyn remains one of the most scientifically-researched ethno-medicines of all time. Research institutions worldwide have endorsed its usefulness for restoring blood to healthy levels not only in SCD but in other conditions of chronic anaemia. It is time for Nigeria – indeed for Africa – to proudly beat its own drum and make the world dance. Jobelyn (botanical name – sorghum bicolor) is Africa’s gift to the world.
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