AUGUST PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH: DR STELLA ADADEVOH

In the words of Chris Hemsworth, “People who put themselves on the line and sacrifice their own safety for the greater good and for others, and anyone in any profession whose concern is the welfare for other people instead of the individual, are inspiring and important.” To Mitch Albiom, “sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.” We live in a world where constant sacrifices are required of us to be made towards needs of family members or friends. Most times, these sacrifices are huge and we often have to displease ourselves to render solution to the challenges faced by others. The reality of our times is, at a point, some will have to make the bold decision to sacrifice the irredeemable.

Mrs Ameyo Stella Shade Adadevoh was born on the 27th October 1965 in Lagos to the prominent Adadevoh family. Dr Babatunde Kwaku Adadevoh, Stella’s dad, was a renowned physician, scientist, lecturer, author, and a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos. Looking deeper into her roots, Mrs Stella’s paternal great grandfather was Herbert Samuel Macaulay while her maternal great-uncle was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria. Graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of Lagos College of Medicine at age 24, she became a functional member of the Nigerian Medical Association, Medical Women Association of Nigeria, British-Nigerian Association, Endocrine and Metabolism Society of Nigeria, Association of General and Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria and National Postgraduate Medical College.

After completing her one year mandatory housemanship at Lagos university teaching hospital (LUTH) in 1981, she obtained her West African college of physicians and surgeons credentials in 1883. Thereafter, she left Nigeria for London to complete her fellowship in endocrinology at Hammersmith Hospital before returning to Nigeria to spend 21years at the first consultant Medical Centre in Lagos, where she served as lead consultant physician and endocrinologist.

To Woodrow Wilson “there’s no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed.” This was the life of Mrs Stella Adadevoh who through her love for humanity and her profession gave her all to her Job. According to her only son Bankole, “She was there seven days in a week. She would even do house chores for her patients and go on house calls for free. Even those who couldn’t afford to pay for the health care, she had a tab at the hospital, she would give free medical care or tell them to put it on her bill and she would pay for it.” In 2012, H1N1 (swine flu) spread to Lagos, Nigeria and Dr. Adadevoh was the first doctor to diagnose and alert the Ministry of Health.

In 2014, there was an outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa and this led to wide spread panic amongst African countries. Since the virus was deadly and had no cure, countries began placing travel restrictions across their borders and airports. On July 20th 2014, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberia diplomat, flew from Liberia, (a country declared to be exposed to Ebola), to Lagos, to attend a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He then collapsed at the airport in Lagos and was taken to First Consultants Medical Centre (FCMC) a private hospital instead of federal hospital since Mr sawyer was a diplomat, based on protocol, but this wasn’t possible since federal health workers were then on an indefinite strike. This private hospital was also the one where Dr Adedevoh worked.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a virus whose symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage and is contacted and spread by humans through body fluids, such as blood and saliva. Its fatality rate can reach 90% but current outbreak has mortality rate of about 70% and it has an Incubation period of two to 21 days and also has no proven vaccine or cure. Being the lead physician at the FCMC hospital, Dr Adedevoh’s noticed Mr sawyer who wasn’t responding to the assumed Malaria treatment during her ward rounds and suspected he had been exposed to Ebola virus. She then took his blood sample, notified the state and federal ministry of health, restricted access to his room and ensured Mr sawyer wasn’t discharged irrespective of the pressure and law suit threat she received from Liberia top officials who accused her of Kidnapping a diplomat.

Mr Sawyer’s blood test then came out positive to a rare strain of Ebola and he died few days later. All medical practitioners who were in contact with Mr Sawyer were then quarantined to ensure the containment of the virus. Her refusal to discharge Mr Sawyer, who was the index patient, irrespective of the pressure mounting on her and threats she got, enabled the federal government to trace all those who had contact with him thereby preventing a wide spread  of the virus across the country.

Dr Adedevoh was later declared to have contacted Ebola and was thereafter kept in the medical facility created for those with the virus. She later died of the virus on August 19, 2014 at age 58, alongside a pregnant Nurse Justina Ejelonu, and the ward maid, Mrs Ukoh. Though about four health workers died in the Ebola saga but Dr Adedevoh’s heroic act of standing up against the world diplomats and their threats, was the only reason why all 20 Ebola cases in Nigeria were traced to a single path of transmission originating with the first (index) patient and quarantined.

In her words, “for the greater good”, Mr Sawyer wasn’t to be discharge and this single act of braveness is the reason Nigeria was declared Ebola free on 20th October 2014 while other west African states affected still battled with the virus because of their inability to locate the index patient. As many remember and celebrate Dr Adedevoh who died five years ago protecting Nigeria against an epidemic, we say a big thank you to her for sacrifice for the greater good. She is a Nigerian heroin and our August PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH.

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