39-year-old Judith Ogiamienand’s story goes back over a year when she began her battle to find the right treatment for her 2-year-old daughter, Baby Mercy. After the initial shock, her story recounts many long and hard fought battles she has had to endure. Fortunately, her story ends well. In an interview with Vaidam, Judith tells us about her overwhelming experience and how the final solution opened up to her has transformed her life.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Judith Chinazo Ogiamienand, I have two wonderful girls; Olivia who is nine and Baby Mercy who just turned two on May 14th. We live in Lagos, Nigeria.
What is their medical condition?
The past year, Baby Mercy was running a high fever for several days. My husband took her to the paediatrician. The hospital kept her under observation, unfortunately, by the next day, the fever was still high. The doctor spent a long time listening to her heart. She mentioned a murmur and suggested we get it checked out.
What did you do next?
I scheduled an appointment with the cardiologist the very next week and received a call confirming the appointment. We arrived for her appointment and did an EKG. As we were waiting for the Echo, a doctor walked by and mentioned that she was "a little bundle of energy." We went in for her Echo that lasted an hour and a half to two hours.
Once done with all the medical tests, the doctors proceeded to tell us that my baby girl had ALCAPA. That she was very sick and needed to have open heart surgery.
How did that make you feel?
We were utterly devastated. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I felt that I needed to be strong for my daughter’s sake. We were also worried about the finances, as a surgery of this magnitude was expected to be expensive. But through it all, I had faith that things would work out.
Tell us about the Nigerian Govt’s sponsorship program?
One of the biggest hurdles for us was the financial affordability of this treatment. Thankfully, with the help of local media and some friends, we were able to get the word out about Baby Mercy. When people heard about our dire need, support poured in from all over.
How was your trip to India?
It went very smooth, although, we did have a problem with our Visa.
What was the problem?
We couldn’t get the visa for India early on. Our Vaidam case manager had to intervene and took care of the documentation and sent the letters to the Indian high commission. Eventually, we got the Visa, but it was a quite a process and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Vaidam.
You decided to get Baby Mercy treated at BLK hospital, what was the reason behind this decision?
Yes, our decision was based primarily on economical reasons, the hospital fit our budget and most of the services offered were at par with other best heart hospitals in India. I have heard that Medanta is a great hospital; in fact, we were referred to Medanta by our doctor for some further tests. But I must say, we were quite happy about our experience at BLK.
How is Baby Mercy feeling now?
She had her successful heart surgery and thanks to the best cardiologist in India - Dr. Neeraj Bhalla’s constant reassurances and timely care; just 2 days after her surgery we could see a drastic improvement.
Now, after almost one month of the surgery, she is beautifully recovering. We are scheduled for her follow-up second echo test next month but know in our heart that everything is alright. We are so grateful everyday for our miracle baby.
How did Vaidam assist you?
Just to know that someone is there in a foreign country and that we won’t feel alienated is a huge relief. Vaidam was our constant companion throughout the trip; from making arrangements for the Visa, to finding the right doctor and then making the necessary appointments. It took a huge burden off my shoulders.