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Remembering Stella Adadevoh, the doctor who saved Nigeria from Ebola


Today we remember Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh (Lagos, 1956) , who was the one who discovered that Ebola had arrived in the country lodged in the body of the North American of Liberian origin Patrick Sawyer .

Nigeria was one of the countries that experienced Ebola attack in 2014 and it was quicly curtailed before it could spread across the country, this is largely due to the determination and courage of a woman, Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh, a 57-year-old endocrinologist. On July 20, an ASKY plane landed in Lagos with the Liberian-born American Patrick Sawyer aboard.

Upon arrival at the airport, Sawyer was transferred to the First Consultant Hospital with high fever, malaise and vomiting, where he remained under observation until two days later it was confirmed that he had Ebola . Dr. Adadevoh led the medical team that took charge of the patient and it was she who, personally and with the nurse Justina Obi Ejelonu, prevented Sawyer from leaving the hospital in the direction of Calabar, hundreds of kilometers from Lagos, where he had a meeting.

This gesture, which prevented Sawyer from leaving behind a deadly trail among those who tried to help him, probably saved the lives of dozens of people.

If not more. The Ebola virus, rampant in Africa’s most populous country, would have been an even more dramatic scenario than the current one, which is already complicated enough, especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia. A few days later, both Dr. Adadevoh and nurse Ejelonu tested positive for Ebola. Both died shortly after.

The Nigerian media in general devoted several articles to the Nigerian doctor, stressing that her was a vital diagnosis to control the epidemic while extremely complicated, because it was the first time that there was a case of Ebola in Nigeria . Stella Ameyo Adadevoh left her husband and a single son of just 26 years old, Bankole Cardoso .

The BBC tells how her family watched her, worried, during the days when Ebola landed in the country and she took care of the Sawyer case, how they saw her get sick and die and also how they suffered the lack of recognition of the Nigerian government and were moved with the national mourning that caused his death.

The colleagues of Dr. Adadevoh remember that the deal with Patrick Sawyer was not easy. He took the fact of being confined and isolated and reacted violently. It seems that, after losing a sister to Ebola just two weeks before traveling to Nigeria, the only thing that interested her was to find a cure for her illness in a church and not in a hospital.

He had escaped from Liberia with the excuse of a conference in Calabar, 750 kilometers from Lagos, sowing the disease in his path.

He collapsed upon arrival at the Murtala Muhammed airport. He was not a patient collaborator, he denied contacts with Ebola sufferers and put all the possible difficulties to be treated. Added to this were the pressures from the Liberian government to release him, which continued as they waited for the results of the tests to confirm that he had Ebola.

Dr. Adadevoh was relentless and conscientious. In the process of treating Sawyer, eleven members of the health staff of the First Consultant Hospital of Lagos, including her , fell ill . Sawyer caused a score of cases and eight deaths. She passed away on August 19.

When he died, he left behind 21 years of service in the health sector, a national mourning and popular outrage at the time when, last September, the government made public the list of more than 300 people they received National Honors without including it. Again, as happened with the girls kidnapped in Chibok and on other occasions, the authorities of the country were not up to their citizens.

Dr. Adadevoh was the daughter of Babatunde Adadevoh, professor of chemical pathology and vice chancellor of the University of Lagos between 1978 and 1980. She comes from a lineage of academics and personalities, including the nationalist Herbert Macaulay , Samuel’s grandson in turn. Ajayi Crowther , the first African Anglican bishop. He spent most of his life in Lagos. The parliament of his state has asked the governor Babatunde Fashola to rename the hospital of infectious diseases in Lagos with his name.