Who Will Speak For Us

Who Will Speak For Us: A Tribute In Honour Of Late Pastor Augustine Okwuolise

Today, Thursday 8th March 2018 is World Kidney Day. Word Kidney Day was started by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and International Federation of Kidney Foundation (IFKF) in 2006 with the theme ARE YOUR KIDNEYS OKAY? It is a day for global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys.

I’ve just finished watching AIT Newshour and though not surprised, didn’t hear the mention of World Kidney throughout the Newshour and so it was in some other media houses. This confirms the assertion of Dr Ebun Bamgboye that there are only 160 Nephrologists in Nigeria. There are too few that speak out for kidney patients in Nigeria and unfortunately, their voices are not heard. Who speaks for those suffering Kidney diseases and those who are living with transplanted kidneys in Nigeria as transplant is only a temporary treatment and not permanent treatment?

Today I remembered Augustine Okwuolise, a friend and colleague in the battle for life. He was working in Delta State Deputy Governor’s office in the time of Chief B. S. C. Elue when his kidneys failed. Chief Elue directed him to me while I was serving in All Saints Church Obior. That was how I came to know Pastor Augustine Okwuolise. We started battling for life after the transplant. When the idea of Kidney Care Association Delta State was muted, he was at hand to join and support the move. On a day like this when we celebrate World Kidney Day, he will join me to DBS, State House of Assembly, Ministry of Health and other places we may choose to carry out our advocacy and campaign to. Today, I missed his company.

Who speaks for Kidney disease patients and those living with transplanted kidneys? Pastor Okwuolise was a man who will not want to become a burden on anybody. The only help he received since his kidney failed was the initial money given to him for transplant. Due to his nature of heavy mouth, he opted to bear the burden of his check up and purchase of drugs for more than 10 years. He wouldn’t have developed complications that led to his death if there were people who are specialists and who have the heart of God and are well placed; who are ready to speak on behalf of Kidney patients. Probably Pastor Okwuolise would have been alive today. His salaries and allowances in a year can’t buy his drugs, yet he kept “borrowing” to survive but today, he is no more. Adieu great man!

But who speaks for those who have kidney problems. He is not the only person that is suffering as far as this kidney problem is concerned. Many of us are suffering. As I write, Kidney Care Association Delta State has lost 2 of her members in January and February 2018. Two of our members have lost their transplanted kidneys. One of them had gone back to India for another transplant surgery. The drug boxes of many of us including myself are almost empty with no dime for refill in sight. Who speaks for the kidney patients? Who understands our plight? When we quote what we need for drugs, people think that we are asking for too much but we have not even had enough for our treatment and care.

I felt greatly hurt that Nigerian Nephrologists not deem it right to do something meaningful more than empowering themselves in that field and many of us living with transplanted kidneys have not even care to speak out for the world to know that we are suffering. I have seen more than 5 Nigerian Nephrologists come to India to understudy my doctor there. That is a good thing but we want more from them in terms of advocacy and awareness campaigns during World Kidney Day and other days. There is need to come together to do more.

Presently, there are more than 25million Nigerians living with Kidney diseases. They need over N100,000:00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) for dialysis every week and many have died without anyone to help. Just like my doctor observed few years ago, that he has helplessly watched kidney patients die because there was nothing he could do to help the number of patients that come to him daily. However there are so many more things to do to help subsequent patients. We need the few Nephrologists in Nigeria to start speaking out for us. American Kidney Fund does something like that in USA.

The Kidney patients in Nigeria are suffering. Those that are still on dialysis are suffering. There are thousands that die on daily basis that can’t afford dialysis. Who will understand our plights? Who will speak for us? Dear Augustine Okwuolise, as we lay your remains to rest, be assured that I, Tabugbo Morgan Uzoma will continue the fight you started with me. I am not continuing because I may so much benefit but I will fight until posterity will stand to say thank God for those that fought for kidney disease patients in Nigeria.

Good Night Pastor Augustine Okwuolise as we continue the battle for life!

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