Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh Recognized Among The LSDP Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2014
Up to until July, 2014, Nigeria had never before reported any case of Ebola virus infection within its borders. This was soon set to change when one Liberian national, Patrick Sawyer flew to Lagos, and he was already infected with the virus. Why he was not under quarantine back in Liberia, let alone how he was allowed to board an airplane and fly to Nigeria raises a lot of questions. It is reported that Sawyer’s sister had succumbed to the Ebola virus barely two weeks before his flight into Nigeria. Sawyer had also denied ever coming into contact with any Ebola patient, upon his arrival in Lagos.
It was apparent that the health officials inspecting travelers entering Nigeria through the Lagos airport would let Sawyer go.
But one heroine Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh was not convinced that Sawyer was in the right health conditions to be allowed into the country. So she pushed for his detainment and quarantine.
It is said that Mr. Sawyer was required by his employer to attend a conference in Calabar, a Nigerian coastal city located some 750km away from Lagos.
At this time, Nigeria had little preparedness as far as handling cases of Ebola patients was involved. Dr. Adadevoh herself is said to have described Lagos’ rudimentary Ebola treatment center as being “uninhabitable”. However, she was still able to push successfully for the isolation and quarantine of Mr. Sawyer.
“Immediately he was very aggressive. He was more intent on leaving the hospital than anything else. He was screaming. He pulled his intravenous (tubes) and spilled the blood everywhere,” said Dr. Benjamin Ohiaeri, the Director of First Consultant Hospital.
During the initial days when Dr. Adadevoh was caring for Mr. Sawyer while waiting for the test results for his blood, she came under intense pressure demanding she let him leave. She faced threats of catastrophic consequences should she further detain Mr. Sawyer.
Dr. Ohiaeri said, “The Liberian ambassador started calling Dr. Adadevoh, putting pressure on her and the institution. He felt we were kidnapping the gentleman and said it was a denial of his fundamental rights, and we could face further actions.”
Despite all the threats being issued, the hospital management trusted Dr. Adadevoh’s judgment and did not give into the threats and pressure. It later turned out that Dr. Adadevoh was right all along and that Mr. Sawyer was indeed infected and a health risk to the general public. He succumbed to the virus and died from Ebola while at the hospital. But sadly, twelve health officials at the hospital including Dr. Adadevoh who were attending to him had contracted the Ebola virus from him.
It was confirmed on August 4th that Dr. Adadevoh tested positive for the Ebola virus. Nigeria then revamped its Ebola virus preparedness and opened a better-equipped health facility in Lagos. Dr. Adadevoh and all her colleagues who had contracted the virus from Sawyer were now placed under quarantine.
Dr Adadevoh’s only son, Bankole Cardoso said, “On the first day I was able to come close and at least stand by the window and have a conversation with her, the second day the same thing. I took her things to make her comfortable – towels and slippers and then suddenly the next day I couldn’t even go near the window.”
At this point, the health officials had imposed stricter rules on quarantined Ebola patients.
“As every day went on she was there – it appeared she may pull through and on my birthday on a Sunday it was the most optimistic day. Then on the Monday we went in and the whole story had changed, they called us into a room and just explained that this is exactly what is going to happen and it’s not even a matter of days anymore. It might be hours,” said Cardoso.
Dr. Adadevoh died on August 19; one of the eight fatalities out of the 20 cases all linked to Mr. Sawyer. Were it not for the heroic action of Dr. Adadevoh, Nigeria – the most populous African country would not have been declared Ebola free by the World Health Organization so soon after the first reported case of Ebola virus infection.
Had Dr. Adadevoh not taken it upon herself to quarantine Mr. Sawyer despite the standard safety precautions in Nigeria at the time not showing any reasons for the isolation of the passenger. Had she given into the threats and pressure mounted on her to release Mr. Sawyer. Had she not risked her own life by attending to a suspected Ebola patient for the sake of the general public. Nigeria would have been another case of horrifying statistics of the Ebola Outbreak 2014.
For the selfless and heroic actions demonstrated by the late Dr. Adadevoh, she has been recognized by The LSDP Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2014. This recognition is just not for the brave and selfless act demonstrated by the late Dr. Adadevoh but for setting an example that people should do their jobs as required of them. She is the embodiment that heroism can be achieved through our daily chores and in our normal work clothes, just as much as it can be achieved in superhero capes.