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IN MEMORIAM: 6 years ago, Adadevoh gave her life to save Nigerians from Ebola

IN MEMORIAM: 6 years ago, Adadevoh gave her life to save Nigerians from Ebola
August 19
13:49 2020

On this day, August 19, in 2014, Stella Ameyo Adadevoh died in the line of duty after caring for Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who was diagnosed of the Ebola virus disease.

But for the insistence of Adadevoh, who was the most senior doctor attending to Sawyer, the patient would have left the First Consultant Hospital, Lagos, where he was being treated. He had just arrived in Lagos that morning and was to attend a retreat in Calabar.

According to Benjamin Ohiaeri, former medical director of First Consultant Hospital, Sawyer did not take it kindly when he was told not to leave.

He said the patient “was very aggressive” and more concerned about leaving the hospital “than anything else”.

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“The Liberian ambassador started calling Dr Adadevo, putting pressure on her and the institution. He felt we were kidnapping the gentleman and said it was a denial of his fundamental rights and we could face further actions,” Ohiaeri also said.

With Nigeria’s lack of experience with Ebola, a disease which had killed more than 1,000 people at the time, it was a herculean task diagnosing and managing Sawyer who reported only fever and fatigue at the hospital.

What’s more? Sawyer denied coming in contact with any Ebola patient or attending any funeral ceremony before his trip to Nigeria.

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Ada Igonoh, one of the health workers that attended to Sawyer, recounted Adadevoh’s bravery and leadership prowess as the entire scene played out: “As we were preparing for the early-morning ward rounds, I was approached by an ECOWAS official who informed me that Patrick Sawyer had to catch an 11 o’clock flight to Calabar for a retreat that morning. He wanted to know if it would be possible. I told him it wasn’t, as he was acutely ill. 

“Dr. Adadevoh also told him the patient could certainly not leave the hospital in his condition. She then instructed me to write very boldly on his chart that on no account should Patrick Sawyer be allowed out of the hospital premises without the permission of Dr. Ohiaeri, our chief medical consultant. All nurses and doctors were duly informed.

During our early-morning ward round with Dr. Adadevoh, we concluded that this was not malaria and that the patient needed to be screened for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). She immediately started calling laboratories to find out where the test could be carried out. She was eventually referred to Professor Omilabu of the (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) LUTH Virology Reference Lab in Idi-Araba, whom she called immediately. Prof. Omilabu told her to send blood and urine samples to LUTH straight away. 

“She tried to reach the Lagos state commissioner for health but was unable to contact him at the time. She also put calls across to officials of the federal ministry of health and national centre for disease control.

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“Dr. Adadevoh at this time was in a pensive mood. Patrick Sawyer was now a suspected case of Ebola, perhaps the first in the country. He was quarantined, and strict barrier nursing was applied with all the precautionary measures we could muster. 

“Dr. Adadevoh went online, downloaded information on Ebola and printed copies, which were distributed to the nurses, doctors and ward maids. Blood and urine samples were sent to LUTH that morning. Protective gear, gloves, shoe covers and face masks were provided for the staff. A wooden barricade was placed at the entrance of the door to keep visitors and unauthorised personnel away from the patient.”

In celebrating her, TheCable recently named the late doctor as the Nigerian of the Decade, describing her as that citizen “whose life has shown that you can make a difference in the lives of millions of your compatriots without wielding the power of the state”.

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1 Comment

  1. tunji
    tunji August 31, 08:14

    Msny thsnks indeed for this wonderful and heartfelt piece on Dr Adadevo Wish to know if there is a foundation we can contribute to in her memory

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