Since Mrs Morenike Emitomo-Ola’s two-year-old son, Abimifoluwa, was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (hole in the heart), her life and that of her husband have not been the same.According to her, Abimifoluwa has been in and out of hospital to save his life.Their finances are also a mess, as they have to pay for medications, tests, and the cost of echocardiography.
“We have lost everything. We have borrowed. We have exhausted all our savings. There is nothing we can do right now, and we don’t want our son to die,” the 38-year-old mother said in an interview with our correspondent.
The American Heart Association describes Tetralogy of Fallot as a combination of four congenital heart defects.The four defects are a ventricular septal defect also known as VSD, pulmonary stenosis, a misplaced aorta, and a thickened right ventricular wall (also known as right ventricular hypertrophy).
A 2016 research by Animasahun Barakat, Madise-Wobo Akpoembele, Falase Bode and Samuel Omokhodion, titled, ‘The burden of Fallot Tetralogy among Nigerian children’ showed that most children between the ages of one and five are at risk of the condition.
The result of the analysis showed that the most common indication for the evaluation of TOF was cyanosis.It also revealed that 119 out of 165 (72.1 per cent) children were clinically cyanosed on presentation.
“TOF is prevalent among Nigerian children. Cyanosis is the commonest presenting feature and indication for evaluation. Most of the subjects presented late and hence were diagnosed after one year of age.“There is a need to increase awareness of TOF in Nigeria to encourage early diagnosis and hence better outcomes in these subjects,”
part of the research read.The echocardiography report conducted by the University College, Ibadan, showed that Abimifoluwa had a “Tetralogy of Fallot with confluent through hypoplastic PA branches”.Morenike, speaking further, said it took nine months for her to find out that her son had been living with the condition.The mother said Abimifoluwa, who was born on April 26, 2020, had no complications when he was born.
“He was a healthy young boy. The doctors didn’t tell us anything at the hospital. It was when he was nine months old that he was diagnosed with the condition,” she added.
Since then, Morenike said, it has been from one clinic to the other in search of a solution.She said she had been to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and was referred to UCH, Ibadan, where Abimioluwa has received medical care since then.
“When we got to UCH, the hospital said we had to do the tests again and paid for them again. The doctors also confirmed that he had a hole in the heart and that everything boils down to surgery. The doctors said without surgery, I can lose my child, and I don’t want to lose my child.“I don’t go to the shop anymore because I have to always be around him because the doctor said he must not have an infection. So, I have to be around him all the time.“It is hard for us as a family. We have spent more than one million naira. We live in Lagos but we visit Ibadan almost every week for check-ups. Bills are piling up on us. We need help,” she added.On the cost of the surgery, Morenike said UCH said it would cost between N4.9m and N5m.