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Agony Of Family Who Need N2m To Save Only Surviving Child

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Sylvester Okonkwo once had five children but lost four of them to different diseases at different times. Now, the father of one is seeking financial help to save his only surviving son, Emmanuel, from going deaf. HENRY TYOHEMBA writes.

Mr and Mrs Sylvester Okonkwo and their four children used to be one happy family. But a few years ago, the parents were left devastated when all the kids died one after the other, from one illness or the other.

Succour however came when their fifth child, Emmanuel was born. They savoured the joy of being parents once again but the unfortunately, the joy was short-lived as Emmanuel suddenly took ill and lost his hearing and speaking abilities following a minor malaria attack.

According to Okonkwo, Emmanuel showed symptoms of malaria sometime in 2014 when he was only four. The little boy was consequently taken to Gwarimpa General Hospital precisely on April 6, 2014 for medical examination. He was diagnosed of malaria fever but the subsequent turn of events were unpleasant as Emmanuel stopped talking.

“After taking the prescribed drugs for three days, I notices that as I talk to him, he would not respond. At first I thought it was because of the pain from being injected or some other things. But from the fourth day, if you bring him down from the bed he will not stand up on his own unless I hold him. He found it difficult to walk,” Okonkwo explained.

The Enugu State-born Okonkwo, who is a carpenter and is from Uzo-Uwani local government area, is currently on a quest to restore his only surviving child’s health.

According to official figures, he needs to raise at least N2 million in order to acquire two types of hearing aids at the cost of N1.8 million and another N500,000, to help his 9-year-old boy talk and hear again.

Meanwhile, Okonkwo is accusing the Gwarimpa hospital of being responsible for what resulted in his son’s condition.

He recalled that while Emmanuel was at the hospital on admission, he was discharged without any development or a word on the 7th day – April 14, 2014.

“So when I took him home, I began to observe that the boy can no longer talk again and he couldn’t hear any word at all and this is a boy of just four years and he has started school before this thing happened,” he added.

Since then, the family has been traumatised and disturbed as trying to get money to carry out one form of test or the other has become their way of life.

He went further to say that the Gwarimpa General Hospital, which could not state the reason for discharging them, later referred them to the Maitama District Hospital.

According to Okonkwo, when they got to Maitama, the doctor, after demanding and collecting N12, 000 to run a test on the boy, still gave vague result, which led to their journey to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital for further findings.

In Gwagwalada, the doctors demanded for N50, 000 before running tests and knowing fully well that he could not raise the amount having been previously sacked from his job, Okonkwo headed back to Gwarimpa hospital to report to the doctor what she allegedly put his son through.

But the doctor’s reaction was rather strange as she only asked Okonkwo to carry his son to a prayer house for healing.

“Since then, as Christians, we have been going from one prayer house to the other until a neighbour noticed what was happening and advised me that he has a place he did his Industrial Training in Jos, where they are perfect in anything ear, nose and throat, that they will check him to know if it is hearing aid he need or not,” the father explained.

The journey to Jos was not fun as Okonkwo passed through hell trying to raise money for transport fare that will take him and the boy to Jos including the accommodation fares.

“I raised money and transported him to Jos and lodged in a hotel until the next day.

The following day, we went to the hospital to meet the doctor and after some tests, the doctor told us that what he needed was hearing aids and they cost N700, 000.

“I started crying because I have nobody to help me. The doctor then asked me why I was crying, he asked whether I have other kids and I said no. The doctor then said I should go and look for the money.

“When we returned to Abuja, I called the doctor in Gwarimpa hospital and told her what I’m passing through but she only told me to keep praying,” Okonkwo said with a teary eyes.

Years have since gone by and he still has not been able to raise the money. When he could not find a means, he turned to the church community. “I looked around and started begging members of my church. Despite all their promises only one Catholic Church and women organisation and Igbo Catholic community gathered something for me.”

Having raised some money from people, together with the borrowed ones, the distraught father went to do the tests, where he was again redirected to International Hearing Center at Apo district in Abuja.

“I did the test there and they gave me two types of hearing aids. One is N1.8 million while the other is N500, 000. I came back and went round to look for the money but to no avail,” he said.

Okonkwo, who is pleading with kind-hearted Nigerians to help him raise the money to keep an heir for his family, said that he went to collect a loan of N280, 000 where his wife works, and he deposited the money in December last year for the hearing aids but up till now, he still cannot raise what is left.

The family can be reached by well-meaning Nigerians who wish to help through his phone number – 07036280405. Bank account number for any deposit is 0115322065. Account Name – Okonkwo Sylvester, Bank – GTB.

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