Caleb Olawuyi and Belinda got married in April 13, 2009 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. Their wedding was the talk of the town. Both families and friends gathered to share in their joy with much expectation of congregating again nine months after to celebrate the naming of the couple’s baby.
The bounty of joy eventually came on May 10, 2010, but to the chagrin and amazement of all, Baby Okikijesu, as she was named, was born without a skull. The vault of the cranium is missing from the eyebrows up. Halfway up to the back of the head is covered by skin and hair.
Olawuyi, a schoolteacher, recalled his experience at being told of the horrific news at the hospital on the fateful day. His words: “When I was told my wife had given birth, I ran there with joy to see the baby. But when I got there I received the shock of my life. I saw a baby without a skull. I felt very bad. It was terrible. I was the one consoling my wife, because she was calling for her baby.
She was shouting, ‘where is my baby? Let me see her.’ It was a rigorous experience. She is our first child. After many diagnoses by pediatricians at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan where the baby was born, the doctors said it was beyond their medical capability and confirmed it was a rare case.”
According to a medical report dated April 29, 2011 signed by Prof. Malomo Adefolarin, “the child was first seen by our unit on 13th May, 2010 at the third day of life, following consultation by the pediatricians because of the congenital cranial anomaly. The mother had febrile illness at 9th and 26th weeks of gestation and was treated with Camoquine and Fansidar respectively. She also had herbal treatment. The prenatal ultrasound scans were reportedly normal.”?
In an emotion-laden voice, the distressed father who hails from Kwara State, disclosed that since UCH said it could not handle the case, the family had made efforts since January this year to contact a pediatrician, Dr. Ben Carson at the famous John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore in the United States who had assured that the anomaly could be corrected through surgery. “It was my brother who is a student at FUTA who told me about Dr. Ben Carson of the John Hopkins University in United State, who said he could handle the case. We’ve sent the baby’s Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI) and some other scans.
The operation, the surgeon reportedly said, would cost N9.2million.?But, that is just the crux of the matter. The hapless young couple said they were just too poor to afford the cost of treatment. Olawuyi said: “We actually thought people could help us; that was why it took us so long before we could contact the media.
We have been keeping the baby at home all this while. It was a friend of mine who suggested that we come to the media that if it is published, well meaning Nigeria could come to our aid. We have written a letter to the wife of the Oyo State governor, but we haven’t heard from them. I’m a poor schoolteacher, I’m not from a rich family and my wife is not yet working. The baby is growing as a normal child, she is now two years old, but she doesn’t go out. We only take her out when we have to go to the clinic.”?
Dr. Amos Olufemi Adeleye, who is the child’s consultant and a Neurosurgeon at the Department of Neurological Surgery, University College Hospital, (UCH) confirmed the case, noting that it is one of the worst cases in the world. His words: “The condition this child has is called a number of medical names, because it comes in different forms, but one that may fit this particular case is congenital a crania without anencephaly.
It is a problem that occurred during the formation of the child in the womb. The brain did not form very well inside the mother’s womb. Something, nobody could really tell what, just didn’t work out well. It is not a very common occurrence. Even so, this case is one of the most severe forms of the condition that we have seen in recent times.”?
Dr. Adeleye added that even if the child is treated abroad there could still be some future challenges because of the severity of the case. “There are for sure a lot of things that can be done to help make living much more bearable for the child and the parents abroad, but these would most likely involve a lot of capital outlay. It is not likely to be a case of once-for-all curative medical treatment either.
There would most likely still be a lot of life-long medical and social challenges to cope with by the child and the parents. This is one fact that should modulate whatever steps we take in this case.” The father, however, put the blame on the hospital, saying they should have detected the abnormality during pregnancy. “My wife had been attending their ante-natal clinic since she got pregnant and they didn’t detect anything. She never missed her clinic for once.
Even when the baby was born they didn’t show any concern about finding a solution. They only asked, ‘how is the baby?’ If it were to be in advanced countries, doctors there would have developed interest in taking care of the baby,” he lamented. Daily Sun put this accusation to Dr. Adeleye.
His reply: “Surely so. Somehow, that did not happen in this case. But even if it had been, it is not as if the problem would have been any much easier to solve. Although the issue is only now putative, but then the conc