Ayo Adewemimo lived a very normal life until age two when he was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia. With the love and care of a supportive parent, the first of three children was able to cope with the challenges that come along with being a sickle cell patient.
Ayo did not allow the situation affect his life, as he joined his mates in participating in extra-curricular activities in school. His condition changed for the worse when at the onset of his teenage years.
He began to experience severe pain, stiffness, shortening in his right hip and had difficulties in walking. Then a student of Bridge House College, Dolphin estate, Ikoyi, he discovered that it was gradually becoming impossible to walk.
At a point, he was almost confined to the same spot. Finally, he was diagnosed with hip dislocation.
“The sickle cell made me have a lot of pains on my joints and this led to the dislocation. It made me miss classes and school lessons,” he said.
“I started limping, which required me to use crutches and I was a little bit unsure among my friends in school.”
Some of his friends were kind enough to assist him in school, much as some did not just care.
“Some were a bit mean and he often complained about his colleagues who did not want to associate with him because he was limping and using crutches,” recalled his mother.
“And they made him feel they were not on the same level. They didn’t want to talk to him and he couldn’t take part in sports.”
With strong determination, Ayo was able to endure till he graduated from college. He had the dream of studying IT Security at the prestigious University of Dubai and his parents would not allow his dream go down the drain. So they rallied round him, taking him to several hospitals, including the National Orthopaedic hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, all in a bid to overcome the health challenge.
“I wasn’t too comfortable with the arrangement at Igbobi,” revealed Hakeem, Ayo’s father.
“I wanted something good and something I could be very sure of, so I spoke to different people. Some suggested United States, others mentioned Europe and India.
“However, I settled for India when I came across Dr. Raju Vaishya of Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi while surfing the Internet in search of surgeons for hip replacement.”
Mr Adewemimo heaved a sigh of relief when he was assured that his son’s case could be handled. However, the procedure required sending across his X-ray and another challenge arose.
“We had a challenge because they said he had to be of age before they could do it,” he revealed.
“The hospital explained that if they did it earlier than that, they would have to redo it some other time later and the success rate of the second time is about 30 per cent, which is not even guaranteed. So that’s why we had to wait for him to come of age before we decided to go ahead with it.”
In June 2014 when Ayo was admitted to the hospital, the situation had become worse, as both hips had been badly affected. Dr. Vaishya led a team of surgeons who performed an operation of hip replacement on him.
“We took special care by providing adequate hydration and oxygenation to the patient to prevent sickle cell crises during peri operative period,” Vaishya said afterwards.
“He may require revision THR surgery in future … but he will be able to lead an active and pain-free life in his youth and prime time.
“Having hip arthritis as a result of sickle cell disease is a rare situation, while total hip replacement surgery at such young age is extremely rare and often not required but that appeared being the preferable option.”
However, there has been a tremendous improvement in Ayo’s health.
“Just two weeks after the procedure, I could raise my leg to a certain angle from the foot to the knee and up to the hips,” he said relief.
“It is much better and I do exercises with much strength. Emotionally, I thank God this has been taken care of and maybe I will be finally accepted among my peers because some were mocking me back then.
“I was limping and some said I was walking the way Fela did after his encounter with the soldiers who threw him out of his burning residence in the late 1970s.”
Seeing his son do what was almost impossible in the past, Ayo’s father praised the medical team that restored smiles to the face of Ayo.
“The doctor was optimistic even when they did the x-ray; it was much clearer and [it] revealed the situation to be worse than he first thought, unlike what they saw in the x-ray we had earlier sent to them,” he said.
“Even at that, he was confident it would be successful and as it were, it proved to be.”
In about four months time, Ayo is expected to start walking unaided; and the teenager is beaming with smiles as he prepares for life in the university.
His preferred career path of IT Security is based on his deep admiration for Edward Snowden, the 31-year-old American credited with revealing classified documents of the National Security Agency to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.