My Mum’s last days – Dr Stella Adadevoh’s Son Opens Up

Bankole, the only son of the late Dr. Stella Adadevoh, tells Arukaino Umukoro  about his mum’s heroic efforts in the country’s fight against Ebola
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Can you recollect her encounter with the late Liberian diplomat, Patrick Sawyer, who brought Ebola into Nigeria?

The actual story was that when this man (Sawyer) flew into Nigeria from Liberia to attend a conference, he fell ill on his arrival and was taken to First Consultants because the general hospitals were on strike. When he got there, he was first treated for malaria on a Sunday. That weekend was my dad’s 60th birthday and my mum wasn’t in the hospital. We were all at home celebrating. On that Monday, she went to the hospital and saw him. Immediately, these were her own words to me, she said she was very disturbed, because it looked as if blood was seeping through his skin. She said she knew it was not malaria. When she asked him where he had been and he said Liberia, she immediately suspected it could be Ebola.

Interestingly, three months or so before, we were just watching the news when she said, “Nigeria is not prepared for Ebola.” Back then, she immediately did her research on Ebola, noting that Nigeria needed to be prepared if there was an outbreak. She printed those papers long ago. So, when this man came, she immediately suspected; although at the time, she didn’t have any positive result that it was Ebola. The Liberian officials there were very furious and said she must release him, claiming that she was holding him against his will; and she had kidnapped him. But she said she could not let him leave the hospital for the public good, and he must stay there because she suspected he had a haemorrhagic disease which was infectious.

How was that period for you and your family?

It was incredibly stressful. I hardly saw her at the time because she was always busy at the hospital, with government officials and the World Health Organisation officials, and also having to care for this sick patient. She got home at 3am every day, and was up by 7am. I couldn’t see her for about three days and with the Ebola disease, one couldn’t predict the outcome. My dad and I went to the centre at Yaba every day, but we were not allowed to come close to her. At first, we could come close to the window to see her, but eventually, we were not even allowed near the window. I didn’t see her for about 10 days while she was in there.

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When last did you see her and what were her last words to you?

The last time I saw her face-to-face was the day I went to the centre to give her her footwear and her iPad. She was physically very weak. This was someone I had never seen fall sick in my life. But then, she was physically very weak. I took all the stuff to her and put it through the door, she had to go and collect it because I couldn’t go into the room. We spoke through the window, I was crying. But she was adamant, she said, “Don’t worry, son. This thing is not going to kill me, but I am very proud of you.” Those were the last words she told me. This was about 10 days before she died. The WHO doctor, Dr. David, told us that it was only a matter of time (before she died), that we should expect the call the next day or in the next week. We were waiting for the call. But he kept telling us that it was a matter of time— it was worse than receiving the actual call.

Can you tell us about your mother’s profession?

My mum, Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, worked at First Consultants for 21 years, the same hospital I was born in. She was synonymous with First Consultants. Also, many of my best friends and my whole family were born there. She treated generations of different families; parents, grandparents, great grandparents, children and grandchildren. That was the case in my whole family as well. She treated everybody. I have met many patients of hers who have said that she was such an exceptional doctor because she really cared for them. She followed up on them all the time and prayed for them. Medicine was definitely her calling. She was educated at the University of Lagos, and then she went to the University of London to continue her career. Later, she decided to move back to Nigeria to continue her career because she didn’t want to stay in England. She always said that she wanted to be here to make an impact on the health care system. She was selfless and extremely dedicated to her profession. She was there seven days in a week. She would even do house chores for her patientsand 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.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Bankole Cardoso. I am the son of Dr. Stella Ameyo Adadevoh. I am an entrepreneur. I was born and raised in Nigeria. I went to Boston College in the US for my undergraduate degree, where I studied Business Management and Accounting. I worked with PriceWaterHouse Coopers in New York. After that, I worked in a private equity firm called the Carlyle Group, in the US. I’ve been back in Nigeria for about two years now and I launched a company called Easy Taxi in Nigeria.

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