This is not the best of times for Mr. Peter Elegbede and his wife, Bukola. Their 18-month-old daughter, Oluwafeyikemi, is lying critically ill at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, Lagos.
She has been diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour (or nephroblastoma) — a rare type of kidney cancer that typically occurs in children, but rarely in adults. Experts say it causes a tumour on one or both kidneys. And because of the urgency of her condition, Oluwafeyikemi needs N1.5m for surgical operation and other treatments, which include radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions.
Her father said he had exhausted all he had on his daughter’s failing health and appealed to good-spirited Nigerians to come to his child’s aid. Elegbede said as Oluwafeyikemi’s illness worsened, he had to sell his car and some other valuables, but the proceeds didn’t go far.
He said, “I have to come out and plead with well-meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of my daughter who is suffering from swollen stomach as a result of a condition called Wilms’ tumour. Her physicians said she needs N1.5m. The radiotherapy costs N200,000, while chemotherapy drugs and other medical treatments cost N1.3m.”
Elegbede, who fought back tears many times, added, “Since my daughter’s problem began in June 2012, I have spent everything I had. I had to sell my car and other valuables just to make sure she lives.”
Elegbede said he was undergoing a training/course in Lagos in June 2012 when he got a call from his wife back home in Calabar that she noticed a bulge on the left side of Oluwafeyikemi’s stomach. He said before they knew what hit their daughter, the stomach had become distended. And the battle to save her life began.
The distraught father said Oluwafeyikemi was taken to several hospitals before they got a referral to LUTH.
He added, “When my wife called me and informed me that she noticed a protrusion on the left side of our daughter’s stomach, I told her to take her to the Military Hospital, Calabar. At the hospital, the doctor diagnosed ‘mass growth’ and gave her a referral to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Calabar.”
Elegbede said he decided to bring Oluwafeyikemi to Lagos when she was not getting enough medical attention, because the health management organisation which provides health insurance cover for the family did not send the code necessary for documentation to the hospital.
“I had to bring her to Lagos. We first reported at the Ojo Cantonment Military Hospital, Ojo, Lagos. The HMO sent in the code while we were there. It was here the doctor gave her another referral to Naval Hospital in Ojo,” he said.
It was from there she was given a referral to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba.
Oluwafeyikemi was first presented at LUTH’s Olikoye Ransome Kuti Children Emergency Centre on October 3, 2012. The medical report issued by LUTH and signed by one of the consultant paediatricians handling her case, Prof. Edamisan Temiye, reads in part: “General examination findings revealed an ill-looking child in respiratory distress, pale, anicteric (not jaundiced), afebrile (without fever) and not dehydrated; while systemic examination showed tachypnoea (abnormally rapid breathing, RR=66 cycles/min), tachycardia (a heartbeat that’s too fast, PR=128 beat/min), grossly distended abdomen, visible superficial abdominal wall vessels and minimal movement with respiration.
“A diagnosis of the left cystic nephroma (kidney tumour) to rule out Wilms’ tumour was made and she had exploratory laparotomy (a surgical procedure involving a large incision through the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity), with a view to doing left nephrectomy (removal of left part of a kidney).
“Intraoperative findings suggested Wilms’ tumour and she subsequently had left nephrectomy. Histology report later confirmed the diagnosis with favourable histology.
“She was scheduled to have radiotherapy before commencement of chemotherapy, but due to severe financial constraints, she hasn’t been able to receive any further treatments.”
Temiye told our correspondent on the telephone on Monday that Oluwafeyikemi is still receiving medical attention at LUTH and that she would undergo both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
He said, “What Oluwafeyikemi is suffering from is cancer of the kidney, but I want to say that her case is not beyond redemption. We can salvage it. It is true that the amount needed for both chemotherapy and radiotherapy is about N1.5m.”
Elegbede appeals to well-meaning Nigerians to save his daughter from the jaws of death, saying the 18-month-old child has gone through more than enough agonising experiences that could last a lifetime.
An online portal, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/wilmstumor.html, sheds more light on this disease. It says, “Wilms’ tumour is a rare type of kidney cancer. It causes a tumour on one or both kidneys. It usually affects children, but can happen in adults.
“Having certain genetic conditions or birth defects can increase the risk of getting it. Children that are at risk should be screened for Wilms’ tumour every three months until they turn eight.
“Symptoms include a lump in the abdomen, blood in the urine, and a fever for no reason. Tests that examine the kidney and blood are used to find the tumour.
“Doctors usually diagnose and remove the tumour in surgery. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation and biologic therapies. Biologic therapy boosts the body’s own ability to fight cancer.