Man With Elephantiasis Cries seeks Help | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Man With Elephantiasis Cries seeks Help

Posted: Jun 5, 2015 at 12:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Gabriel John  –   Kaduna


When Gabriel Emmanuel was born into the family of Mr. and Mrs Okeme Emmanuel in the Onitcha-Igo District of Ofu Local Government area of Kogi State 23 years ago, there was jubilation, merry making thanksgiving to God for safe delivery of a new baby. In fact,

Gabriel’s arrival was a big God answered event for the family.

The elephantiasis invested legs

The elephantiasis invested legs

Mr and Mrs. Emmanuel got married in 1967 and waited upon the Lord for the fruit of the womb for whole 47 years and all hopes seemed already lost. Relief came when baby Gabriel was born in Ojuwo Onitcha-Igo on December 23, 1992 amidst merry making. Being the only child of his parents, the family quickly dedicated him to God after three months at a church service held at Qua Iboe Church, Eti-aja Afor in Onitcha-Igo. The dedication of little Gabriel attracted all and sundry, including the council of elders in Ofu Local Government area then.

But the celebration was to turn sorrowful after three days of dedication of little Gabriel. His father, a farmer, was said to have collapsed and later died while returning from the farm close to the family house. As if that was not enough, what started like a pain in the eye of the mother later resulted into the right eye completely going blind, leaving little Gabriel in the dark of sorts.

In spite of all these challenges, Gabriel turned seven years and his mother decided to send the little boy to L.E.A. Primary School, Ojuwo Onitcha, for his primary education. But after three years in school, something strange happened to the boy one day while returning home. He was kidnapped by unknown person(s) within the village and the blind mother kept searching for him for three weeks.

Luck came when baby Gabriel was seen trekking home one afternoon; but he could not respond to questions put to him. In any case he later regained consciousness.

The mother in spite of hardship managed to sponsor him through primary school and finally graduated in 1992.

Soon, after two months of graduation, he started feeling pain in his two legs and being the only son, his mother wasted no time taking him to different native doctors but none could find solution.

Mrs. Emmanuel told her own story: “I stayed for 47 years with my late husband without issue. I have no child and we keep hoping in God that one day, a child will come. We have gone to different hospitals, native doctors but the cause could not be identified. We went back in prayers. Suddenly, one month passed by and I could not see my menstrual period. Like a joke, two months, three months and I started to rejoice for the miracle from God. People around us were surprised too that I got pregnant. After nine months, I delivered baby Gabriel and we all were happy. But after few weeks, our happiness turned to sorrow as the father who has laboured for the baby was returning from a farm at the back of our house and slumped close to our house. All efforts to revive him proved futile. He died. The death of my husband pained me, but with baby Gabriel, I feel a sort of relief.”

However, another misfortune has set in for Gabriel. What started like pains in his two legs 15 years ago has turned to what doctors diagnosed to be elephantiasis. Today, the mother is aged, while Gabriel has no immediate family to run to for assistance as his little farm could not help him anymore. He was almost driven from home because his immediate family members believed that elephantiasis is an infectious disease.

Gabriel is naturally gifted. He had never formally learnt any trade, but today he can repair refrigerator, radio and television sets, motorcycle and a host of others. He keeps body and soul busy with most of the repairs he does in the village together with little farming. But all these could not assist him to regain his health.

Chief Medical Director of Standard Health Centre, Kakuri Kaduna, Dr. James Adoyi, said elephantiasis which is also known as filariasis is caused by several different types of parasitic worms, including wuchereria  bancrofti, brugia malayi, and b. timori, adding that if it’s not quickly treated it can lead to impotence.

“Elephantiasis is transmitted by female mosquitoes. When an infected female mosquito bites a person, she may inject the worm larvae into the bloodstream. The worm larvae reproduce and spread throughout the bloodstream, where they can live for many years. In many cases, symptoms of elephantiasis do not appear until years after infection. As the parasites accumulate in the blood vessels, they can restrict circulation and cause fluid to build up in surrounding tissues,” Dr. Adoyi said.

According to him, the only way to save the infected person from impotence is to provide urgent treatment to him or her. But, Gabriel, without a helper, had gone to different hospitals where huge amount of money was demanded before treatment could be given.

Gabriel told Daily Independent that his inability to pay for the deposit has kept him suffering from the illness for the past 15 years. He said he was completely helpless because there is nowhere he can run to. Indeed, he said he would heartily welcome assistance from good spirited people from anywhere.