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IMMINENT BLINDNESS THREATENS BRILLIANT 12-YEAR-OLD PUPIL'S AMBITION TO BECOME A DOCTOR

By NBF NEWS
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At his Ajogbo Grammar School, Iyana Ilogbo, Ogun State, 12-year-old Ahmed Adenekan is known by everybody. But it is more for the wrong reason: the JSS 1 pupil reads by placing a book very close to his eyes and sometimes touching his cheek with it.

His teachers adore him because in spite of the challenge of being short sighted, he remains an exceptional pupil.

Yet his brilliance might have gone unnoticed if he had not lost a term in the current session. On account of his condition, Adenekan could not resume as a JSS1 student until the second term. But he stunned his teachers who had thought he would not be able to cope with the work his classmates had done before his arrival. Adenekan did not only cope with the activities of his class, he emerged the best pupil.

When his parents showed his primary school results to our correspondent, it was noticed that Adenekan usually took 2nd or 3rd position.

Asked why he did not come first, Adenekan said, 'I wanted to, but it was difficult. I could not read for long because my eyes would pain me. And the letters of our text books were too small for me to see clearly.'

His poor sight remains a problem he has battled with all his life. His father, Mr. Akorede Adenekan, said the family noticed the problem as early as Adenekan started crawling. 'We were surprised that he kept bumping into things. We checked his sight and noticed a tiny dot in each eye. We decided to run a check in the hospital,' he said.

Since then, Adenekan's parents have been in and out of hospital, looking for a lasting solution to their son's problem. The boy was placed on different drugs until he was two years and an operation was performed on his eyes at the Ikeja General Hospital, Lagos State. However, the problem persisted.

'We went back to the general hospital and he was subjected to series of tests again. At the end of the tests, the doctor said Adenekan would need another operation. When I explained that I had no money for another operation and that he had just undergone one, they gave him some drugs. But the doctor insisted that he would have to do another operation eventually.'

Although Adenekan took the drugs that were recommended for him faithfully, by the time he was seven years, it was obvious that his sight was deteriorating.

'We went back. Frankly, by this time, I was tired. I am an artisan and buying his drugs had exhausted me financially. But his mother kept pestering me, and given the fact that we did not have many children, I reluctantly agreed to go,' the father said.

This time, the poor boy was referred to Eye Foundation in Lagos, where another series of tests were conducted on his eyes. The result of the test carried out at the foundation indicated that he had congenital cataract, which a surgery could correct. Akorede said the hospital was kind enough to waive some fees on account of the trauma the family had gone through.

'We needed N150,000, but we did not have the money. This was the time that Fashola (Lagos State governor) was conducting free eye test and treatment. I went to register and we waited for our turn.'

Things, however did not turn out the way the family expected. One look at the child and the experts at general hospital where the test and operation was to take place told the father that his son would need more medical attention than they could provide. 'I showed them his medical documents and they said I should go back to Eye Foundation,' he said.

But rather than go back to Eye Foundation, Akorede went looking for other hospitals that could charge less for the operation. 'All of them kept telling us to go to Eye Foundation. We even went to one doctor who gave him eye glasses, but he also said we should let Eye Foundation do the operation.'

The family went back to Eye Foundation, but it was a bit late. 'Our initial contact this year was in January or so, and we were told that the fees had risen. Now we are looking for N500,000 for the same operation and recuperation in the hospital. I don't have that kind of money. I am tired.'

Saturday Punch gathered that the school had already sent a message to the parents to tell them that the brilliant boy could not see well and soon, it would be a waste of time to keep him in school.

One of his teachers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of civil service rules told our correspondent, 'They (parents) should help that boy. If he is not brilliant, I will understand. What are they doing? They should wake up and help him. He is brilliant, he has a future,' he said.

Adenekan told our correspondent that he could only read if he place books close to his eyes. 'The letters are too small, but I manage to read them if they are close to my eyes,' he said, expressing hope that his father would find money for his operation.

'I want to see well so that I can become a doctor and take care of him and my mummy,' he said.