Posts Tagged ‘India’

On the 14th of August 2012, I put up a post calling for help for Meka Akerejola, an OAP in Abuja who needed surgery urgently. Guess what? He’s back! And he’s fine! He got in touch, and our chat’s reproduced below. Enjoy!


Welcome back Meka!! Whoop!!

D Fairy GodSister: Let’s jump right into it; how did this fight for your health start?

Meka Akerejola: It started back in March 2011, when I had to be hospitalised for about a month. I came down with recurring headaches and severe fatigue, even when I wake up in the mornings. Those were the most obvious signs; there were other clinical signs. Little did I know at the time that I was walking around town with a blood pressure reading of 230/120.

D Fairy GodSister: Wow!

Meka Akerejola: That BP is enough to cripple a much older person. Apparently I was even at the threshold of a stroke; I’d started to feel some strain on my neck, at some point I could barely turn the neck. I was immediately admitted at a clinic in Zone 6, and was sedated for about 10 hours in order to crash the BP; that saved my life at that point. While at the clinic I ran further tests that eventually showed that I had an infection in my kidneys or what the doctor called “glomerulonephritis”

D Fairy GodSister: Ok. And then you were told you needed medical care abroad. What exactly were you told you needed?

Meka Akerejola: I wasn’t told that I needed medical care abroad at the time. They kept trying to manage the condition, and when they saw that the results remained consistent for extended periods, I was eventually referred to a nephrologist; I opted for one at Garki hospital. Upon seeing him, I was subjected to further testing. In the end his diagnosis was similar to what the doctors in Zone 6 had feared. By this time my creatinine levels were still very high; “creatinine” levels help determine the state of the kidneys

D Fairy GodSister: Ok

Meka Akerejola: Being very high meant the kidneys had lost substantial function, and that prompted the nephrologist to recommend a transplant before it degenerated to a fatal state.

D Fairy GodSister: Ok. So that’s when the need to go abroad arose.

Meka Akerejola: Yes, kidney transplants are still a nascent field in Nigeria and they’re quite expensive too.

D Fairy GodSister: What influenced the choice of country/hospital?

Meka Akerejola: India has gradually grown into a first choice medical tourism hub. Not only have they got the expertise as I have witnessed first hand, but it’s quite affordable too. While I was there, I saw so many different nationals from all over the world, present at the hospital I attended. And it wasn’t just tourists from poor or poorer nations. In Bangalore for instance where I went, I saw so many hospitals the size of our own national hospital.

Picture of the hospital Meka was at.....

Picture of the hospital Meka was at….. Columbia Asia.

D Fairy GodSister: Ok. And so the race against time to raise money began. Tell us about it

Meka Akerejola: My nephrologist was the one who initially encouraged me to start a fund-raising campaign. 7 million naira is not an easy sum to come by, and that amount is only very basic for the procedure. It turned out that the campaign started and took a very emotional route and the response was awesome.

D Fairy GodSister: What major breakthroughs in the campaign do you want to tell us about? Fundraisers that were held on your behalf, bulk sums coming in, interventions from your employers, anything like that?

Meka Akerejola: There were a few fundraisers… Most notably was the parent #SaveMeka fundraiser that was championed via social media, with a lot of N1000 donations made. Then there was one organised by Ohimai Amaize, an aide to the serving Sports Minister; he brought his friends together in my name on his birthday. A week later there was the #SaveMeka concert put together by Yankee Entertainment, and the guys at Cool and Rhythm FM, supported by Chocolate City, AY, IAm, Daar Communications, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, etc. I’m ever so grateful.

D Fairy GodSister: Did you ever fear you wouldn’t raise the money needed in time?

Meka Akerejola: Maybe I did at first; some people were working to get some funds from my state government (Kogi). We were making headway until the floods came and that took priority.

D Fairy GodSister: So you raised the money, and you made it to India. Who went with you, what was the course of treatment and how long did you spend?

Meka Akerejola: We raised just shy of 7 million naira and I went with my younger sister, the proposed donor. We spent about six weeks in Bangalore, since the scheduled transplant wasn’t done. Doctors after investigations were able to stabilise me, and put me on medication to ‘extend the life of my kidneys’. Since I’m at level 3-4 of 5 of the chronic kidney disease, the condition cannot be reversed but effective management can help extend the life

D Fairy GodSister: So you didn’t do the transplant?

Meka Akerejola: No I didn’t. I’m going back in 6 months for more tests, and an evaluation.

D Fairy GodSister: Now that you’re out of harms way, what’s next for you?

Meka Akerejola: I’m not entirely out of harms way; I’m still carrying failing kidney(s). Like I said it’s an irreversible condition; I’m just being monitored by the hospital, and I’m currently on some type of management regimen. So I need to keep visiting the hospital periodically for evaluation. In the mean time, I’m back on my feet with some renewed energy, and hope to return to almost normal life.

D Fairy GodSister: And your fiancée? Should we expect to hear any bells soon?

Meka Akerejola: Yea she’s great! And she has been totally supportive. We were actually due to tie the knot on her birthday, Nov 2 last year, until the unforeseen happened. Something very low key is still on the cards though for sometime this year….

D Fairy GodSister: Whoop!!!  Thank you very much Meka! Here’s to a successful, healthy 2013!

Meka Akerejola: Thank you Fairy GodSister!

Ok, are you new to the Oke story? Statement of the problem is here, pictures of the problem here (not for the light-hearted I must warn), and phase one of the solution is here.

A lot of thoughts have run through my mind from the very first night I became aware of Oke and I just thought to share four of them with you. I’m also sharing a documentary made by a close friend of mine, Onye Ubanatu, capturing the essence of Oke’s story.


I’ve never doubted the power of social media (wouldn’t have studied it if I did) but if I did, this campaign would have forever put paid to those doubts. The speed with which the blog posts spread and the amazing functionality called the ‘retweet’.  Jerry Seinfeld was right when he said this of Twitter, “Twitter is progress; why say to one what you can say to all”. Amazing! And say to all we did, in just a few hours his pictures and story were literally everywhere! Thanks to the WordPress’ ‘stat by country’ functionality I could see just the numbers of people from the different countries, and believe me it was amazing!


Oke’s story was just another instance pointing to a problem we (Nigeria) haven’t gotten past. Unfortunately, even in 2012 we are still in the ‘reaction’ rather than ‘proactive’ mode. No one thinks to plan for the future, hell we’re barely getting through today! Fully discussing that will take all day so I’ll just say that all the information I got about Oke’s illness I found here. That website also features simple definitions and presentations of types and symptoms, care for people with diabetes, and even available support groups! And it’s all correct, up to date information! Do we have functional bodies like that here? No. All we’re saddled with are committees catering to committees set up to review the work done (or not) by committees. SMH!


The day after I spoke published the ‘Save Oke, we saved Oke’ post; I got one BBM broadcast about a young Nigerian in the clutches of another terminal illness who needs to seek treatment abroad. Someone else tweeted a link at me, and that evening I got email; three different people in one day! I flashed back to the campaign when I asked (in a private email to a group) if anyone else was thinking about the people who didn’t have anyone to blog about their problems. Who would cater to those ones? I’m asking those questions again; who runs with their stories?

How many people die every day because they have no access to qualitative healthcare? How many ‘trivial’ cases transform into life threatening because they were not nipped in the bud with adequate treatment? Who sings for the unsung?


Social media has always and will always revolve around people. Social media without human involvement can be compared to a beautiful car without a driver: it is nothing without our input. It is one thing to sit in the comfort of your home and moan every day about everything going wrong with the country, how the government doesn’t care, how we need a ‘paradigm shift (lol), etc. It is a totally different (and more profitable) thing however to do your civic duties, know your leaders (local and national), and then hold them accountable by getting informed, asking them questions, you know the drill. In the same vein, while I am grateful to everyone who tweeted and retweeted Oke’s story, it is the ones who actually donated I am grateful to. Imagine if we were all tweeting, ‘Facebooking’, and no one did anything. We’d sooner be tweeting at his funeral!

This whole campaign has taught me that technology (in different formats, functionalities) will come and go but people will always remain. We are the answers to the questions we seek; we are the world we want to live in.

P: S – As you read, Oke is in India with his sister, and a state appointed consultant. I spoke to him the night before he left, and told him to document his ‘Osuofia’ stories for me, cos I’m sure he’ll have plenty!