Written by Judd-Leonard Okafor
Medical personnel who have seen to Daniel Emory are baffled how the 33-year-old has survived with an infection under his penis for nine years without medical care.
Emory doesn’t remember how he got the infection, but his carers—and there have been quite a few in over a decade—think the infection came from pressure sores that developed in 2006.
That was a couple of years after he got in an accident that’s left him bedridden for 12 years.
On October 10, 2003, Emory, fresh out of secondary school and holding down a sales supply job in Onitsha, he stepped out of a delivery truck and faced a stray cattle. In the next instant, he was on the bull.
“It was running with me [on top of its horns],” he recalls. “People were shouting. It threw me off. Immediately I fell down, I found myself in this condition.”
At least two bones snapped in his neck, some more in his legs and hips, x-rays show.
Since then, he’s been on his back on a mattress and grown to nearly 33 years old without leaving his bed.
Despite previous surgeries and treatment stopped after a local charity funding them became unable to foot his bills and maintain a single-room apartment at Karu to keep him close to Primus Speciality Hospital. Since then, he’s been relocated to Dutse Makaranta and gotten only two weeks of physiotherapy.
Physiotherapist Chibuike Mbamalu, who tended him for two weeks at Optimal Health in Abuja, says Emory is billed to undergo years of treatment—in addition to infection under his penis, pressure sores have eaten deep into his buttocks and sides, osteoporosis has set in making his bones fragile, and his knees and joints have stiffened from lack of use. But he must find a way to pay nearly N7.762 million ($39,000) for them.
The treatment plan begins with infection control, then a surgery to replace his knees so Emory can bend to some degree, a separate procedure to elongate his Achilles’ tendon to give him some movement, and another to scrape away dead tissue from the pressure sores in his buttocks.
“He’s been like that for more than 10 years, but there is good news in the sense that there is sensation in the toes,” says Emma Udoji, director of Optimal Health, who signed a letter enabling his patient to seek public assistance.
“So, there is very good hope that with proper management and intensive therapy, we hope to see some good changes.”
Physiotherapy and rehabilitation will depend on how well his bones and muscles respond to surgeries that an Indian hospital has proposed for $25,000.
Next his doctors will be looking to ensure he gets some independence, even in a motorised wheelchair, so he can move and stand, says Mbamalu.
They plan to strengthen his trunk and upper limb muscles in physiotherapy lasting up to six months, before they can start rehabilitation to return his mobility.
The plan includes a robotic exoskeleton to help him walk, says Mbamalu, “but if the trunk and upper limb muscles are weak, he can’t progress to using it.”
Emory could be in rehab two hours per session, three times a day, six days a week for at least six months to regain mobility at an estimated $20,400.
“For now, because finance is a challenge for him, he doesn’t feed well,” says Udoji. “From what we understand, sometimes he came here and he has had buns, egg roll, and that’s what he takes.”
Emory life revolves around the catheter running into his penis to help him drain urine.
“I don’t sit, I don’t stand,” he says. But he keeps in touch with the world.
“I have my phone, I stay on social media, I chat with friends. There are some, I don’t know if they’ve forgotten me, but at times, if I have enough credit, I do call to remind them.”
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