Five “short” years ago, Nigeria and the world was greeted by the good news of a successful first of its kind kidney Transplant at FMC Umuahia Abia State. This life restoration event was made possible by the priceless Gift of Life by a selfless relative– an uncle of a young man who had suffered kidney failure for years. It is not news that kidney failure in Nigeria is on the rise… that without sustained dialysis and kidney transplant, a death sentence is assured for the afflicted. For those that receive a kidney transplant proper follow-up care and maintenance must be implemented to avoid complications and failure.
Kidney Transplant has been available since the 1950s in the USA and other parts of the world, and only recently in Nigeria in 2000 when the first transplant was conducted at St. Nicholas Hospital under the leadership of Dr. Bamgboye. There remains much work to be done; access to adequate kidney care for everyone that needs it, reduction of the cost of overall kidney care— dialysis remains an unaffordable luxury to the common person in Nigeria, kidney transplant is ‘out of reach’ due to the enormous cost even when there is a willing and compatible donor, and need for increased human capacity and infrastructural development in this area of healthcare.
The adage “a chance to cut is a chance to cure” came to life December of 2017. The saying is an old proverb that means that if given the opportunity to fix a problem, one should take it. The proverb implies that if one takes the initiative to make changes, they can often make things better. The phrase can be used to encourage people to act when they see a problem and to find a creative solution to it. Dr. Obi Ekwenna a Nigerian-American Transplant Surgeon (Co-Founder, Clarion Call Center), and professor of Transplantation and Urology at the University of Toledo, OH USA–performed the successful surgery in collaboration with FMC Umuahia medical experts. He recognized the plight of patients with kidney failure in people of African heritage, both in Nigeria and the African diaspora, and made a goal to lend a helping hand, helping initiate transplant programs across the world. The gift of life is a legacy of compassion, generosity and hope that has been passed down through the altruism of the kidney donor, the commitment of the likes of Dr. Obi Ekwenna who make a difference in the lives of others by giving of themselves, striving to meet the needs of others against all odds.
On this fifth year “kidneyversary”–anniversary of a person’s successful kidney transplant– we celebrate and appreciate the life-saving gift of the donors and the recipients’ renewed health and rebirth. As we approach the Christmas and festive period, remembering the small and big wins has great value, the legacy of the gift of life encourages us to think beyond our own needs and think of the needs of others especially people with kidney failure who are on death’s door. It is a legacy that inspires us to think of the present, the future and the possibilities of what can be. It is a legacy of giving, sharing and of being there for one another. It is a legacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.
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