Pupil Needs 267,133 Ethiopian Birr To Survive After Drinking Acid In School
Life for three-year-old Darasimi Ogunwunmi has become a daily dose of agony and struggles for survival.
Clinging to life at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba Lagos, Darasimi’s survival has been due to his sheer will to live, doctors say.
At the moment, doctors have said Darasimi would require another round of surgery for the repair of his throat and stomach which cumulatively would cost about N2.5m (267,133 Ethiopian).
The bouncing and active little boy, whose parents referred to as the joy of their lives, has been reduced to a sack of bone and skin as he is being fed through a tube on his hospital bed.
Few months ago, Darasimi was a normal kid running to school and running back home into the arms of his mother; today he cannot even drink water.
In November 2015, Darasimi, a Kindergarten One pupil of Fahsal Children’s School, Ilupeju Estate, Idiroko, Ogun State, drank caustic soda left lying carelessly around his class while he was thirsty.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the proprietor of Fahsal, Mrs. Fausat Abubakar, recently added soap making into her line of business but rather than remove the production far from the reach of her pupils, the soap is being produced right beside their classrooms.
On November 19, the worst happened when Darasimi became thirsty and his teachers turned a deaf ear to his incessant cry for water.
That day, Saturday PUNCH learnt that there was a Parent-Teacher Association meeting at the school during which it was announced that the school was to commence soap-making in the school premises.
Part of the caustic soda already mixed and left around was what Darasimi drank from.
They only realised what had happened when the boy was found outside his classroom crying and bleeding from the mouth.
The boy’s mother, Toyin, a food vendor in the area, said teachers in the school told her that liquid caustic soda was left in a bowl and the boy took a cup of what he thought was water and drank from it.
The lethal liquid destroyed the boy’s throat and stomach, doctors said.
According to a research report published by the Sau Paulo Medical Journal, caustic substances cause tissue destruction through liquefaction or coagulation reactions.
Experts say caustic soda, which is also referred to as sodium hydroxide or lye is an acid that breaks down tissues faster than many other chemicals.
They say complications from drinking caustic soda include esophagitis (inflammation of the oesophagus), esophageal stenosis (a narrowing of the lumen of the oesophagus that slows or impedes the passage of fluid and foods) and progression to cancer, fistulas, perforations, stomach lesions, brain abscesses, and death.
Toyin said after her son drank the dangerous acid, nobody from his school made any attempt to call her or her husband until a boy arrived from school and explained that something had happened to Darasimi.
Toyin told Saturday PUNCH, “Darasimi goes to school with another little boy every morning. It was the little boy who came home and told us that Darasinmi had been taken to the hospital. I could not understand what the boy was saying because none of his teachers called us to say anything was wrong with him.
“I sell food around the school and could not understand why nobody tried to even alert me to what happened as his teachers took him to the hospital.
“My husband and I rushed to the school and some of his teachers said they were just about to call us. I told them they were wicked people because they only said that because they saw us.
“They told us he was at a hospital in Idiroko and we rushed there. We found the proprietor with few other teachers in the school. They were crying when they saw us. I quickly grabbed the woman and asked what had happened to my boy.”
Toyin and her husband rushed inside the hospital to find their boy being treated by some doctors.
After a few hours, they were told to take the boy to another General Hospital at Sango, it was learnt.
Toyin said they were about to board an ambulance that would take them to the second hospital when the proprietor of the school handed them N10,000 for the treatment of the boy.
“We quickly returned the money to her and told her that we were in it together. She could not just hand us N10,000 and say goodbye to us. We left for the hospital together,” she said.
At Sango, the worried parents were told that the hospital could not treat such an extensive problem. They were referred to the Federal Medical Centre in Abeokuta, where the boy was admitted and treated for another six days. Again, the hospital referred them for more advanced treatment at the LUTH.
Toyin said, “We got to LUTH on November 26 and after few days of treatment, they told us that we needed N65,000 for an initial surgery, which was to take place on December 1.
“A day before the surgery was supposed to take place, we had not paid and we had borrowed from everywhere we could turn to for the initial treatment.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that around this time, Darasimi started to take little quantity of tea. So, doctors decided to watch him for a few days.
The boy’s parents said the proprietor made no further attempt to call them while several attempts to speak with her proved abortive as she no longer picked their calls.
Toyin said, “Sometimes, frustration would force me to call teachers of the school to ask of the woman, they would say she had not been to the school for a while. Sometimes, they would say she was ill.
“We had to tell the doctors to discharge our son. We could not work and there was no money to pay for his treatment. Even the money for the hospital bills was borrowed from the family of another patient. We had to refund it after we got home.”
Few days after getting home, Saturday PUNCH learnt that Darasimi could not ingest anything food again and had to be taken to a health centre in Idiroko.
When the boy’s situation worsened, he had to be taken to the General Hospital, which admitted him for two days before referring him back to LUTH.
At LUTH, doctors said it had become imperative for the boy to undertake the initial surgery that was put off as the parents run from pillar to post praying for the survival of their son.
Toyin said Abubakar later sent N15,000 with beverages to them for the care of the boy.
After borrowing money to add to the N15,000 the proprietor sent to them, the Ogunwunmis paid N65,000 for the surgery of their son, who nearly died few hours before the surgery.
Saturday PUNCH learnt the boy was found unresponsive on the morning of the day the surgery was to take place. He was resuscitated and the surgery took place later that evening. Again, it was a tough battle rousing him from his anesthetised sleep after the surgery.
But at the moment, the doctors said the boy needs further comprehensive surgeries that will cost N2.5m for him to survive.
Doctors, who spoke under a condition of anonymity, said the boy would require at least two more surgeries. They said the boy’s stomach and oesophagus have to be reconstructed urgently.
“They are operations that require some urgency if the boy is to survive. The boy is just lying here. Other than just trying to stabilise him, nothing is being done to his case because the funds are not forthcoming. The parents just hang around crying,” one doctor said.
Darasinmi now lies in the Ward E4 of LUTH with uncertain fate.
His parents are apprehensive about where to get such a huge amount of money as they are already indebted heavily.
“Is it our fault that we sent our son to school? We sent him to a private school because we wanted the best education for him despite the fact that we are struggling financially. But now, the school has nearly killed him,” Toyin said.
When Abubakar was contacted, her daughter said she left her phone at home and would contact our correspondent herself.
By the following day when she had not, our correspondent called her again, her phone number was switched off. When our correspondent tried calling her again on Friday and the call went through, she did not pick it and neither did she reply a message sent to her.
Our correspondent contacted the Ogun State Commissioner of Education, Mrs Modupe Mujota, and realised that she had not got a report about the incident.
“Please kindly send a short brief about the incident to my phone. We will take action immediately,” the commissioner said.
As of the time of filing this report, it is unclear what action has been taken on the issue.
Meanwhile, the parents have opened a bank account in the boy’s name to help raise money for his surgery – FCMB account no: 3528300027; account name: Darasinmi Ogunwunmi.