...as mother cries out for help
Fifteen-year-old Balqees Busolami Oloto had lofty goals, having been motivated by his doting parents of trading merchant father and mother who is into fashion designing. Her ambition has not waned. The teenager talks fondly of wanting to be a medical doctor, seeing how she has done so well in the science subjects at Minbar Minds College where she is a Senior School 3 student and doubles as Head Girl.
Balqees had been an effervescent young girl. According to her mother, Alhaja Zainab Oloto, the teenager has never been on admission at any hospital since her birth at Orile Agege Hospital. “She is a very strong, energetic girl and her genotype is AA,” the mother stated.
So, when she fell ill in early September this year, mother naturally felt no worries, especially as the period coincided with academic rigours. “We had not felt any concern other than that she was down and would get well soonest again,” she said.
But Balqees’ condition arouses curiosity. Rather than get well as expected, she didn’t. She suffered high fever, body pains, headache and vomiting. “We took her first to Duniya Hospital, Agege. After a few days, she still didn’t get well. That was how we ended up being recommended to Lagos University Teaching Hospital where she went through a series of tests. While this went on, we were also procuring recommended drugs which were so expensive. As at this moment, we have spent not less than half a million naira on drugs.”
Tests carried out were sent to South Africa for analysis, and then the suspense followed. By October 15 when the result emerged, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia was discovered to be Balqees’ ailment. To put it mildly is to say Alhaja Oloto was devastated by the doctors’ findings.
A letter dated October 23 2018, signed by LASUTH’s Consultant Haematologist, Dr A.A. Akinbami, stated that facility to rectify the ailment is not available in Nigeria, effectively recommending that Balqees proceed abroad for what he called adequate corrective treatment.
“The expenses on drugs has not ceased,” Balqees’ mother lamented. “1 can say it is only through sheer divine grace that we are able to meet up with the cost,” she said.
“Even at that, the drugs have had their implications on my daughter’s health. So far she has had seven pints of blood and 12 platelets. When she had her last monthly period, she bled uncontrollably as a result of her ailment and drugs had to be applied to stop the profuse bleeding. Now there is fear that the drugs may have an adverse effect on her next monthly period.”
Alhaja Oloto said the family had weighed options of the foreign medical trip side by side the cost and settled to have the treatment in India. The snag, however, is that although N18million is required, only about N5million has been raised so far. “Several public-spirited people have rallied us, particularly the staff and students of Minbar Minds College who keep missing my daughter’s presence school. Now, we are faced with no other choice than to cry to Nigerians of goodwill to enable us to carry out this treatment as soon as possible.”
Balqees, who is remarkably in high spirit despite not being as active as she would wish, is also optimistic about getting the treatment done and returning to school. “I am confident that I will overcome this setback soon and I can continue to pursue my dream of becoming a medical doctor,” she said, beaming with smiles.
The ailing teenager can be reached at Balqees Busolami Oloto, Zenith Bank, 2050270833.