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Boy who can’t poop needs N5.6m to repair intestines

  Ferdinand Chukwuani, 5, needs N5.6 million and a batch of surgeries to reconnect his intestines to his anus so he can pass stool normally.…


 

Ferdinand Chukwuani, 5, needs N5.6 million and a batch of surgeries to reconnect his intestines to his anus so he can pass stool normally.

He has Hirschsprung’s disorder—a condition in which some muscles in the large intestine fail to contract, making him unable to poop.

At age five, he has already undergone five surgeries since he was born with the condition.

At least three surgeries to manage his condition have been slated for him at India’s Asian Centre for Mother & Child Hospital, estimated at more than N3.3 million.

Investigation, feeding, contingencies and stay in India for two and a half months brings the cost of managing Ferdinand to a total N5.6 million.

 

Window closing

Says Ferdinand’s father, James Chukwuani: “This problem started when he was two. He has undergone five major operations, all to no avail.”

This year alone, the five-year-old has already undergone at least four surgeries—the latest at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, where he was dubbed “miracle baby”.

His physician, Dr Olori, consultant paediatric surgeon at UATH, referred Ferdinand to India for treatment this June after at least two separate surgeries failed to improve his condition.

In healthy bodies, muscles in the stomach move digested materials through the intestines like a wave, triggered by nerves between the muscle layers.

In Hirschsprung’s disorder, the nerves are missing from parts of the intestines, and areas without nerves can’t move food or poop.

Blockage results and contents of the intestines build up behind the blockage causing the bowel and abdomen to swell.

When doctors at UATH saw him, Ferdinand had a history of difficult with passing stool, progressive swelling of his stomach and pain because of stomach contents building up inside.

He was first operated on at age two at a Suleja hospital where he was born, but “his problems continued,” according to his doctors.

In the procedure—called a colostomy—the healthy end of Ferdinand’s intestine was cut and attached to an opening in the side of his belly to enable him pass stool into a poop bag, often called a colostomy bag.

His father said Ferdinand needed at least five bags daily, each costing up to N400.

Surgeons later performed a Swenson’s pull-through, in which they reattached the functioning part of Ferdinand’s intestine to his anus, but the surgery went bad.

The new attachment of his intestines to his anus became infected and pus formed inside him while poop continued to drain from his side, his father said.

Enemas were used to induce bowel function. “The first time he went to toilet after the surgery, it was all pus,” he lamented.

He continued to have “persistent high-grade fever that was not responding to antibiotics,” the hospital said in an official report. Daily dose of the antibiotic injections cost between N1500 and N2000.

His family said his recovery was uncertain, expecting him to die any time. The hospital said it was slow and discharged him after five weeks, insisting he would need another pull-through procedure when he is “clinically fit”.

That could happen anytime in a window of nine months, Chukwuani said he was informed by his son’s doctors.

“We are into the seventh month now. After [those] nine months, if the intestines are not taken back in, the site will start to decay. That is why we are trying to see what Nigerians can do to save his life,” he told Daily Trust.

Excreta still spurts from the hole in the side of his body while Ferdinand awaits another surgery. His family has also resorted to sterile packings and thick swathes of bandage to keep stool in check.

He doesn’t go to school and can’t go out, because “you don’t know when he is going to need the toilet,” says his red-eyed father.

 


 

“Dry nerves”

Ferdinand’s referral has reached a Dr Dwivedi, a paediatric surgeon at Asian Centre for Mother & Child Hospital in India, through the centre’s Africa representative, Dr Pranay Shah, an obstetrician and gynaecologist with Asian Institute of Medical Sciences.

Dr Shah told Daily Trust by phone that Ferdinand required special management because the nerves that should move his intestines have gone dry.

But he said centre had successfully managed similar cases in the past.

Hirschsprung’s disorder is usually diagnosed in children, and affects boys more often than girls and whites more than blacks.

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