Mr. Matthew Edet Akpan is a commercial taxi driver from Akwa Ibom State but based in Rivers State and married with four children. He woke up one morning to realize that he could not walk with his legs.
He was first sent to military hospital, then, UPTH but he is currently in the male medical ward of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, BMH, where last Friday, January 17, he had a Spiral MRI scan, (scanned from his head to his neck, cervical).
Akpan, whose wife is nursing a new born baby, is left in the care of his 16 year old SS 3 daughter, who had to stop schooling to take care of her father.
TNN visited him at the Rivers State Teaching Hospital (BMH) and witnessed as he was being carried on a stretcher into the Radiology department for the MRI test.
He spoke with EDITH CHUKU on his travails, as well as appealed for financial assistance from the public to enable him complete the full MRI scan, which includes, Thoracic and Lumber (shoulders to waits and waist down to the toes) among others.
What is your name?
My name is Matthew Akpan Edet. I am a driver, I reside here in Port Harcourt but I am from Akwa Ibom State.
What exactly happened to you?
I was once experiencing a neck pain. From the neck, the pain went to my back; when it got to that point, the pain became so severe. I was moved to military hospital. I did x-ray there, they prescribed drugs. When I took the drugs, the pain calmed but after sometime, it will come up again. I became very confused. I was like, what kind of pain is this? I now moved to UPTH, so, they admitted me there, I stayed there for like two weeks, although, before then, after military hospital, I noticed that my legs were getting weak. So, my leg was getting weak because I later stopped to go to hospital. So as my leg was getting weak, one day, I found out that I cannot move my legs again. So, that was when I moved to UPTH.
The doctor at UPTH examined me completely and declared that I am paralyzed on both legs from a disease called cervical spondylomyelopathy (straightening of the cervical spine).
They said the only way I can walk again is if I undergo surgery. The total amount needed for the treatment is one million naira (1,000,000.00).
I stayed there, they prescribed drugs, I bought and I was still moving on with them, until a particular man came up and said he is a doctor, that he has a hospital at D-Line. So, he said that there is no point of me staying here, that I should find way and move out of the hospital so that he can take me to his hospital, that the thing needs operation. (Mouth starts shaking, paused for a about three minutes)
(Breaths down) We discussed the price, he said it is going to be N300,000.00; that I should make deposit of 150,000. So, that was how I moved out of UPTH and followed the man up.
He said I should buy blood, do this, do that, he behaved as a doctor self, so, when the money came, because I was not having money, it was donation people made for me. When the N150,000 was complete, I called him and said we need to move to the hospital so that I can pay the deposit, he said that I should transfer the money to him. By then, I have left UPTH and stayed for like two weeks in the house, that is the reason you saw those pictures on facebook, It was taken in my house.
The man insisted that I transfer the money, I said no, it has to take place in the hospital, the man said no. So I sent my friend to go and check the hospital he said that it’s his hospital. So when my friend got to the hospital, they said no body like that, (tears). So I refused to transfer the money. That was how I moved to this place (BMH). I said I cannot go back to UPTH and start from emergency again. So I decided to come to this BMH. So, that’s how I moved to this place because of how that man disappointed me. That’s why those pictures you see on facebook, they snapped it from our house. Even, I have done several test at UPTH, some of the test results, I brought it here, that’s exactly what happened.
When did you start noticing this challenge in your health and at what point did it start deteriorating?
That was last year, August 10, 2019 that I started noticing it, but it’s not up to three weeks that it became like this. So that’s how the challenge happened, that man made me move from UPTH to my house and I spent like two weeks there, (tears) so, even during that process, I went for a crusade because I was in the house, so I joined the crusade.
Did you walk on your feet to the Crusade ground?
No, I was not walking; they carried me to that place and still bring me back. (pause). So when I came back from the crusade is when he said he is going to do the operation, since he did it that way, I then said no, and I cannot stay in the house, so I have to come back to the hospital.
What treatment have you received so far, here in BMH?
There is no much treatment because here, they depend on the test. They need to know what is actually wrong before giving serious treatment, which is through the test, the MRI, the test you see we just did now, so it’s after the test, they will know what to do.
Can you describe how you feel currently, your body system, how do you feel?
I have pain at my back. This people they have given me pain relief but it’s not that active, like the one they do give me at UPTH. I can turn my neck despite the fact that I am not able to walk, but I find out that the pain really relieved but here. The result will tell what they are going to do, it depends on the result, the result is supposed to be three and the three is N150,000, like the one we just did now is N100,000. So, because of money, they said I should do two first.
What exactly led to you not being able to move your neck? Did you fall or you were involved in an accident or something?
I am even more surprised. I am shocked because I can’t even trace it, just like that, from an ordinary pain, woke up one morning and I can’t use my legs, can’t stand, can’t sit, even my neck, (sheds tears. I can’t move (sobs). I am just lying down like this, they move me from the bed to stretcher for test. My daughter cleans me up because my wife just put to bed and she can’t stay here all the time because of the baby. My daughter who is supposed to be preparing for her WAEC, has to stop school to take care of me(tears).
What appeal are you making to the public?
Prayers and financial assistance. Aside my friends as you see them like this, I don’t know what to do. My friends contribute and some members of the public also send little money if not, as you see me now, I am not doing anything.
I need the public to help me; I need their prayers and financial assistance. I am a driver, a husband and a father of four children, I was taking care of my family through that but now, I’m in the hospital, (sobs), can’t sit, stand, not to talk of using my legs, I can’t even turn my neck, (pause). I am pleading with the general public to help me raise funds, so I can walk again and take care of my wife and children who are solely dependent on me.
The only source of my income is driving with so many years of experience, with no accident recorded by the special Grace of God; I am in the male medical ward. I need your prayers, the God of Miracle should heal me, I need your donations.
I want to say that God will bless Mc OJ Horsfall who I once worked with as a driver, travelling across nine states in the southern part of Nigeria in 2016. He said he was going through his phone, saw my name and decided to give me a call, that was when he found out about my condition and he said Mathew, I will tell the world so that they can help you and he has been doing that. Please help me, God bless you all as you help a brother out.
ACCT NO: 0025859352, Sterling Bank, Name: Mathew Akpan, GSM: 08025911113