Biafra’s Forgotten Soldiers IV: 18-year-old Eunice couldn’t save her father from death

by Patrick Egwu Ejike

Sitting on a sofa in the visitor’s room, Eunice Mbaonu, 18, looks tired and gaunt. Her brother Phillip had just brought her back in a motorcycle from the hospital where the doctor diagnosed her with fever. She has been crying all day, all week, unable to be consoled by neighbours.

Last two months, she had gone to the market to get things for the house when she got the sad news. Her father, Festus Mbaonu, a disabled Biafra war veteran had died after series of surgeries from his wartime injuries. He has been battling the sickness for the past fifty-two years when he was injured on the battlefield in 1969. He died in March 2017 and would be buried on May 27 in Ohafia, Abia state, his hometown.

Now, she feels bad she couldn’t save her father before he died.

“When he was alive, I would always tell him the type of drugs to use or when to take his medication, but he would laugh it off and say I know nothing about medicine,” she said recalling one of her conversations with her dad when he was alive.

Eunice, 18, feels bad she couldn’t save her dad

“I wanted to study pharmacy so I could save him and take care of him. I wanted to show him that I can save him with my knowledge when I graduate. But he is no more. I can’t save him now,” she said using her old Ankara wrapper to clean her tears.  “I can’t even read at night. I see him in my dreams,” she said.

“When I see other children move their dads around on the wheelchair or play with their father,s I feel broken. I wish he was here,” she said with her visibly swollen eyes.

The house of Festus Mbaonu, the deceased Biafra veteran

Eunice said she would miss her father because he loved her. “I will miss him so much. Whenever I bring him out to that shade over there, we will be playing and he will be telling me stories and would advise me about life. He was a good man.”

Dying from bedsore

Most of the veterans die from bedsore, a lesion caused by unrelieved pressure to any part of the body as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin or being confined to a bed because of sickness.

“He just went for a surgery as usual. We thought he would come back home before we got the bad news that he is dead”, said Irene Okeke whose husband Felix Okeke died last year during surgery as a result of bedsore. “The other man living in the other house over there too died as a result of bedsore,” she said pointing to the house where their neighbour who had died of the same disease lived.

Last week, four of the disabled veterans were rushed to the hospital for surgery because of the disease which has taken a toll on them. In front of their doors, silver-shiny padlocks are seen fastened to each side.

“I have had five surgeries because of this bedsore. It is killing all of us. If you take a look at my back here you will see the scars” said Lawrence Akpu, one of the veterans who has survived many surgeries because of bedsore.

“It is a pressure sore that develops in people that are bedridden or paralyzed in a wheelchair because of the part of the body that receives more pressure and this causes it not to get blood like other areas,” said Dr Anthony Mbah, Consultant Physician in the department of medicine, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu.

“Complications from the disease can cause the penetration of bacteria which can infect the place secondarily. It can lead to death at this stage,” Dr Mbah told YNaija.

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