nurse who died of Ebola, Dennis Akagba has just granted a new interview to Vanguard.
Consultant hospital, and how
being pregnant made her easily contract the virus despite working at the
hospital for just one day.
and how God healed him. He also opened up on how he survived and his last moments with her…..his narration will nearly (if not) make you cry 🙁
dreams of living fulfilled lives and raising wonderful children together. The
fiance was two months pregnant and their traditional marriage had been fixed
had just secured a job at First Consultant Hospital, Lagos. He too also just
got a marketing job with an oil and gas company. She was reluctant to go to
work on the first day she was expected to resume on account of ‘morning
sickness’ (pregnancy symptoms) and he encouraged her.
duty and first patient to nurse on her first day at work was the late Patrick
Sawyer, the Liberian-American, who brought the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
to Nigeria. And that decision put a full stop to the lofty dreams of a
promising family. Welcome to the world of Mr. Dennis Akagha, the husband-to-be
of late Miss Justina Ejelonu, the nurse, who contacted and died of the Ebola
disease from Mr. Sawyer.
were not legally married, we were planning for our traditional marriage in
October and she just got this job. She was a qualified graduate nurse and got
the job at the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos. She resumed duty at the
hospital on the 21st of July, while Patrick Sawyer was admitted at the hospital
on the 20th.
one of the nurses that nursed him. She was pregnant and so her immune system
was weak, which made it easy for her to contract the disease. On that first day
which was a Monday, she was having some pregnancy symptoms, but I just
encouraged her to go because it was her first day at work. Sawyer was her first
work on Sawyer. Wednesday and Thursday, she was off. Then on Friday, Patrick
Sawyer died. They didn’t know he had Ebola, it was three days later that they
realized it was Ebola.
contacted the Ebola virus?
told me she nursed him but that she was on gloves. She even thanked God that
she didn’t have direct contact with him. The fever continued and we thought it
was just pregnancy symptoms and even when she went to her hospital, they
confirmed the same thing. She took drugs and ran tests, yet it persisted. At
night, she was usually cold and feverish and her body temperature was usually
very high. At a point, I began to suspect that she had contacted the virus. I
did some research on the disease and realised that she was having similar
serious, she started stooling and vomiting. I had to clean up everything. All
of a sudden, she started bleeding and she started crying that she had lost the
pregnancy. I had to call her relatives and other people. The bleeding persisted
and I had to clean up everything.
did you wear gloves?
gloves because I felt I had already been exposed to the virus. But later I
cautioned myself and started wearing nylon on my hands. But I couldn’t stay
away from her. I kept consoling her. Even when I took her to the hospital, she
wanted to hold me and I told her to also consider my safety. She managed to
hold herself and was able to find her way out in a pool of her blood. We
chartered a taxi to the hospital, but first, I took her to First Consultant Hospital
because I felt they should know more. When we got there, I was directed to IGH,
Yaba. I told the taxi driver to take us there. The driver wasn’t even aware of
what was going on as he took us to Yaba.
minutes before she was attended to. She was screaming that she was going to
die. She was seriously bleeding, she had to come out of the taxi and lay on the
floor. I ran around, trying to get doctors to attend to her. After everything,
they took her in, took her blood samples and the following day, the result came
out that it was Ebola. They washed the taxi with chlorine and also bathed the
taxi driver and I with chlorine spray.
knew what was going on, he couldn’t even take me home because he was so scared.
I had to look for somewhere to pass the night in the hospital. Early the next
morning, I left the Hospital. The taxi driver is alive today, nothing happened
to him. We have been checking on him and the last time we spoke he told me, he
exposed to the virus?
Ebola, my temperature rose from the usual 35.2 degrees centigrade to 37.2. The
Lagos State government gave me a thermometer the day I dropped Justina off at
the centre. It took them two straight weeks to visit my home and to disinfect
it. Before they came, I had already done the much I could do. I used bleach and
detergent to clean the whole house, furniture and clothes inclusive.
educated that a healthy person with Ebola virus cannot get anybody infected,
except if the person is sick and totally down with the virus like what happened
to Sawyer and to my late wife-to-be, Justina. I contacted the virus because
Justina was very sick and I was taking care of her without any appropriate
protection. When we knew what we were dealing with it was almost too late for
me as I had already contacted the virus.
centre what else was done for you by the state?
health professionals to check on me regularly to know how l was doing or if l
had the signs of the virus manifesting. So they used to come around to check on
me. At some point they created scenes with their visits. I was embarrassed and
I was stigmatized. I complained severely to them that I didn’t like what they
were doing. Then, one Saturday they visited again, I complained about the pains
I was beginning to experience; excruciating pains around my waist. I started
praying and asking people to pray for me.
the Holy Communion, so I usually take it daily and do feet washing. I was going
to the hospital daily to see late Justina. Initially, I was seeing her through
the window and she would say I should take her out of the hospital. She
complained of lack of care.
survived the virus, if not for the state she was in. Her immune system was down
because she was pregnant. Along the line, she had a miscarriage and lost the
baby due to the Ebola virus disease.
do an evacuation on her couldn’t do it because they claimed that an evacuation
was too risky as she was heavily infected and may pass on the virus to another
the bleeding had stopped, it led to more complications for her because the
already dead foetus somehow got rotten in the womb and started a damaging
process which led to further complication. Meanwhile, she was still stooling
and vomiting and since nobody could dare to touch her, she was left on top of
her excretions even when she couldn’t do much for herself due to her weak
state. She was given her incisions and other drugs. I believe if some people
survived Justina should have been one of them.
myself; I would have taken the risk of doing the evacuation because it really
go inside the ward because she was so unkempt as nobody attended to her. At
that time, the quarantined patients were in the former facility where there was
no water and she had messed up herself again. I had to look for water to clean
her up, change her pampers and arrange her bedding. Since I was aware of what I
was dealing with, I got myself protected while cleaning up the place. I made
sure she looked better than when I saw her. Justina was shivering the last day
I saw her, one side of her stomach was already swollen, and her legs were also
swollen. I prayed for her. At a point, she needed oxygen and the hospital
couldn’t provide it. Her friends had to provide it. That was the last day I saw
line like I usually did before visiting her, but she didn’t pick her calls.
When I got to the hospital, I was told that she was dead.
she was at the facility?
last day and I knew she was going to give up, because she was saying some funny
things. She said I should tell my people to go and meet her father so as to
finalize our marriage plans, that she’s leaving that place.
not scared that you may die as well from the disease?
taking medications. I had the mentality that I wasn’t sick. I told the
government what I was experiencing. On the day they came to pick me up for
treatment, all of a sudden, my temperature went back to normal. The shivering
and pains were all gone. So they decided that they would be checking on me. But
it got to a point people stopped selling things to me. It was as if the
government got a report that I shouldn’t be around. So, they came and said I
should go with them that they wanted to take my blood sample. I went with them
and they took my blood sample, I was kept in a ward known as the ‘suspected
positive. I was then taken to a confined ward. One of the doctors from UNICEF,
a white lady told me that they were having issues with the results and that
they would have to re-run the tests. They did the tests again and it was still
positive. I told them that it wasn’t my result and that I was healthy. I was
even doing my usual exercises (press-ups) every morning. I kept telling them
that I wasn’t sick. They took my blood sample the third time. That night, they
told me that I tested negative in the last result and that I don’t have any
reason to remain there. That was how I was discharged.
these at the facility what happened to your job?
gas company. I worked on commission basis, but at a point, I realized that
people were not calling me and when I called they won’t pick my calls. Even the
person that I report directly refused to pick my calls and also refused to
associate with me. Justina and I just got our jobs, she got hers at First
Consultant Hospital and I got mine as a marketer with the oil and gas company.
or First Consultant Hospital should compensate Justina’s family?
give to the family will bring her back I think the government owes Justina’s
family a lot because she died trying to save a situation. Justina died in
active service as her death wasn’t natural.
from positive to negative?
I was reading a book on healing
and taking of the Holy Communion. So I learnt to take Holy Communion morning,
afternoon and night. I also engaged myself in feet-washing every day before
going to bed. The Almighty God saved me; the Holy Spirit healed me. It wasn’t
as though l didn’t fall sick as l had direct contact with Justina but the
Almighty God healed me. When I was discharged, I got to my house on Saturday
evening and spent two hours the next day, Sunday, thanking God on my own. I
didn’t go to church or anywhere because of the already established stigma but
today I can confidently attend church activities because I guess they all know
I’m free now. I know my faith and belief healed me. God also worked for me
apart from the fact that my immune system is also working. I believe I got
healed also because friends prayed for me.