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Post-surgery, Nasarawa ‘Acid-Bath Girl’ smiles again

The teenage female acid-bath victim of Akwanga in Nasarawa State is fast on her way to recovery after a successful surgical operation in India, which…

The teenage female acid-bath victim of Akwanga in Nasarawa State is fast on her way to recovery after a successful surgical operation in India, which removed the keloid scars that hung on her face and most of her torso. The veil she wore all through the last three years is also gone. She has long flung it away after she returned from India about two weeks ago. “I only use it when I am going to church,” she told Weekly Trust at her family residence in Akwanga. Understandably, she was all thanks to the state governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, who sponsored the surgery in India, last November. “I can’t thank him enough. Only God can do that,” she smiled, her lips revealing her teeth for the first time in three years, after surgery.

“You can see my lips are back, and fine, as my face”, Comfort told Weekly Trust. “My nose, too, has been restored. Why then would I not laugh?” She added that she was afraid at the Indian hospital, at first. “But I was eager to see a new face and that anxiety trumped the fear. The period of the surgery dragged for me and I was impatient to see the bandages off my face, so that I can look at the mirror and see my new face. At the end, it came to pass – a new face for me – that which can now carry me round without a veil covering.”

Narrating more of her experience at the hospital in India, she said a team of doctors were there, all time, attending to her. “At one time, the surgery developed complications. That was corrected immediately,” she said. The surgery has also eased her breathing problem, as her nostrils were obstructed by keloids. But as the surgery was carried out only on Comfort’s face, the keloids on the rest of her body remain, requiring additional work.

The plastic surgeon, Dr. Nahar, had said Comfort suffered from hypertrophic keloids, which will require between two and three stages of operations with skin grafting, to last about three months in their hospital, assuring of “100 percent good result.” Comfort’s doctors confirmed this, but said she has no good skin left on her body from where a good amount could be grafted for additional surgery. “Most of her body was burnt up by acid,” one of her doctors, Wale, told Weekly Trust.

Comfort suffered from multiple burns because her father, Sunday James, 67, emptied a can of acid on her face after he dragged her into an uncompleted building near their home in Akwanga. The police report says Comfort informed them that one of her aunties sought “spiritual intervention” from an Abuja-based pastor over deaths in the family. James was arrested by the police after neighbours raised alarm, but he regained his freedom a few days later, and continued to walk free. By December of 2010, Legal Aid Council (LAC), acting on pressure from BLAC, an NGO, put pressure on the police who dusted the case file, and arraigned the accused in court where he is still facing trial. Comfort was about 14 then, according to records, and in her ninth year in school. She lost her mother when she was five. The acid attack further shattered her life. With nobody to assist, other than Tashi Tashi, who kept her with his family for care, there were no funds for the NGO to sponsor her surgery, until the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja, and Stepping Stone, a UK-based NGO, donated funds for her to get treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). But the funds were not enough to even start the surgery. Reports on Comfort in Weekly Trust attracted concerns from the Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, whose aides visited Akwanga, and picked her to commence arrangement for an operation in India. But they came at a time Governor Al-Makura had completed arrangements to take her to India, and he handed her to his personal physician, Dr. Mohammed Usman Adis, who coordinated the trip to India. Al-Makura has reportedly said Comfort’s surgery and well-being is top on his mind.

Comfort suffered from multiple burns because her father, Sunday James, 67, emptied a can of acid on her face after he dragged her into an uncompleted building near their home in Akwanga. The police report says Comfort informed them that one of her aunties sought “spiritual intervention” from an Abuja-based pastor over deaths in the family. James was arrested by the police after neighbours raised alarm, but he regained his freedom a few days later, and continued to walk free. By December of 2010, Legal Aid Council (LAC), acting on pressure from BLAC, an NGO, put pressure on the police who dusted the case file, and arraigned the accused in court where he is still facing trial. Comfort was about 14 then, according to records, and in her ninth year in school.

Comfort lost her mother when she was five. The acid attack further shattered her life. With nobody to assist, other than Tashi Tashi, who kept her with his family for care, there were no funds for the NGO to sponsor her surgery, until the Federal Ministry of Health Abuja, and Stepping Stone, a UK-based NGO, donated funds for her to get treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH). But the funds were not enough to even start the surgery. Reports on Comfort in Weekly Trust attracted concerns from the Bauchi State governor, Isa Yuguda, whose aides visited Akwanga, and picked her to commence arrangement for an operation in India. But they came at a time Al-Makura had completed arrangements to take her to India, and he handed her to his personal physician, Dr. Mohammed Usman Adis, who coordinated the trip to India.