By Itunu Azeez Kareem
19 March 2023 |
You probably won’t be reading this piece, if, on a random scale, you had met Mr. Patrick Sawyer before Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. Oh, you’ve forgotten Sawyer, as well; he was an American-Liberian lawyer, who came to Nigeria with the deadly Ebola virus. At least, as a film fan, you remember Gandalf in ‘The Lord…
You probably won’t be reading this piece, if, on a random scale, you had met Mr. Patrick Sawyer before Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. Oh, you’ve forgotten Sawyer, as well; he was an American-Liberian lawyer, who came to Nigeria with the deadly Ebola virus. At least, as a film fan, you remember Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and his popular yell to the demon chasing his children saying, “you shall not pass.” Such was the heroics of Dr. Adadevoh. She raised a red flag when attending to a Liberian patient at the First Consultant Hospital in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos, in July 2014. Whilst caring for Mr. Sawyer and protecting the nation from the virus, Dr. Adadevoh and her colleagues were themselves at great risk. Like Gandalf, she paid the ultimate price: Death. On August 14, it would be nine years that Nigeria lost this woman of valour. In honour of this heroine, this Mother’s Day spotlight is dedicated to her.
A Courageous Mother
She was a courageous mother to Bankole Cardoso, and wife to Afolabi Emmanuel Cardoso. Aside from the fact that she died for the nation, she was a good woman, who raised her son under the harshest of all conditions and still exceled in life and in death. Today, Bankole, her son, can never be more proud of the woman who raised him up to become a successful entrepreneur, and who, after knowing her days were numbered after contacting the deadly Ebola virus, was courageous enough to stay away from her only son till death came. She was fine all along and then suddenly it became apparent. We were seeing little signs and so of course there was panic and confusion,” Bankole said.
“On the first day I was able to come close and at least stand by the window and have a conversation with her, the second day the same thing,” he said.
“I took her things to make her comfortable – towels and slippers and then suddenly the next day I couldn’t even go near the window,” he added, pointing out that health officials imposed stricter rules on isolating Ebola patients.
“As every day went on she was there – it appeared she may pull through and on my birthday on a Sunday it was the most optimistic day.”
“Then on the Monday we went in and the whole story had changed – they called us into a room and just explained that this is exactly what is going to happen and it’s not even a matter of days anymore. It might be hours. That was of course the most crushing time of my life,” said Cardoso.
A Physician With Reputable Honour
Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh was the lead consultant physician and endocrinologist at First Consultant Hospital in Nigeria, where she worked for 21 years. She had never seen Ebola before, but was able to diagnose and contain Nigeria’s first-ever Ebola patient in July 2014. When threatened by Liberian officials, who wanted the patient to be discharged to attend a conference, she resisted the pressure and said, “for the greater public good” she would not release him.
Since Nigeria’s health system was not prepared for an outbreak at the time, she contracted Ebola and died alongside three of her colleagues. Her heroic efforts prevented a major outbreak in the most populous African country and served as the catalyst for successful government action to contain the spread of what would have been a major outbreak in a country of more than 190 million people.
As a result of her keen perception, courage, and steadfastness, all 20 Ebola cases in Nigeria were traced to a single path of transmission originating with the first (index) patient, who took a flight from Monrovia, Liberia to Lagos. This is what differentiated the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria from the outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the index patients were not initially diagnosed or contained. The World Health Organisation declared Nigeria Ebola-free on October 20, 2014.
Humanity runs in the family
People don’t bring humanity from above, they learn and grow into service to all. Just like Herbert Macaulay, her paternal grandfather whose face we have seen many times in our currency, her nation was the first for her, just like her father’s, a former vice chancellor of University of Lagos, she was steadfast and committed. And who also served as a physician in reputable organisations including, the WHO. Stella was faced with two important decisions in her life that fateful day when she met Patrick Sawyer: allow him in and endanger the lives of over 200-million Nigerians, or stand in his way, even if it involves laying down my life. It is a reflection, it’s a difficult decision, but only true mothers would not think twice to lay down their lives when it matters most.
A message to all mothers out there
Of all the 20-Ebola cases reported in April 2014, only five survived, Adedavoh didn’t survive this. We are hoping when the conditions aren’t right, and when the situation isn’t in your favourable times, would your anchor still hold as a mother? She was a mother to the nation, and she depicted a good example of what mothers should stand for. Recently the country honoured her with the humanity award.
Truthfully, it isn’t until you lay down your life would you be regarded as a hero, but sometimes, the simplest things mean the most. Today’s mother should be a reflection of how they want the society to be, dedicate time to your children, and raise them up in the best way possible. Only mothers know the future, because they give birth to it themselves in the form of their children.
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