Chibok boy, Ali Ahmadu, on a wheelchair at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, shortly before his departure to Dubai for spinal cord surgery recently Since Ali was born in Chibok, Borno State six years ago. he and his parents had successfully dodged Boko Haram’s bullets, bombs, and kidnapping raids.
It was the same town and the same year that Boko Haram seized 276 female pupils of Government Girls’ Secondary School as they prepared for their final exams. It was just like any other day when they suddenly heard the familiar sound that dad day in 2015 – Boko Haram insurgents were racing through the town after attacking some places. Little did his mother know that that day would mark a turning point in the little boy’s life and catapult him from the backwoods of Chibok to global attention.
As the sounds of Boko Haram’s shooting enveloped the air, people scampered to safety.
There were suddenly so many motorcycles and vehicles streaking across the village square and everyone was gripped with fear. In the confusion, Ali strayed onto the path of the frenzied insurgents and got run over by a car.
As the dust settled and the raucous sounds of the messengers of death faded in the distance, people rushed to Ali’s rescue. Unfortunately, he was lying in a heap – virtually dead, with broken limbs. He was also covered in blood and dust like a piece of garbage thrown out of a moving car. Life had come to a screechinghalt for the three-year-old and his mother.
Over the next few years, he had to be managed like a lost case, confined to a wheelchair.
Or so it seemed….. until his case caught the attention of an NGO, the Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care. It took up Ali’s case as a matter of priority and sought help everywhere it seemed it could be got. It was as if the horrible chapters of the by now six-year-old boy’s life were about to turn the page. Somehow, the issue caught the attention of one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, oil and gas businessman Dickson Igho Sanomi. The Forbes-rated dollar billionaire was moved by the boy’s story and decided to help him turn the page.
His foundation, Dickens Sanomi Foundation, took up the matter and began searching for a good hospital that could bring the boy back to life. The prognosis was grim: Ali had suffered broken limbs and a ruptured spinal cord! The little boy had been experiencing pain that was progressing over the past three months before Zuleka Hospital in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates agreed to take on his case. He was troubled with pain in the abdomen and the examination revealed kyphotic swelling in the lumbar area.
He walked with a left side spasm and was unable to walk more than 10 metres. Was he lucky to be alive – something like a ‘living dead?’ Thousands of others, over 20,000 by official estimates, had been consigned to their graves since Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency began in 2009.
The treatment and associated costs for the little boy wwre going to cost $48,000.
But to the Good Samaritan Sanomi, it was a small price to pay to get Ali back to life.
And so, that was how the little boy was flown out with his mother to the hospital early September 2017.
His treatment was a miracle, as one of the doctors described it to Khaleej Times ‘astounding miracle‘ in an interview. Dr. Nishith Bhargava is a Consultant Neurosurgeon at Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah and he describes Ali as “a very strong boy who is determined to live.” Recalling how the trauma victim went through treatment, Dr. Bhargava said: “Ali had some of his vertebrae crushed when a vehicle ran him over. He had developed severe pain in the past three months and was walking with a spasm in the left side of his abdomen. He was unable to walk more than 10 metres when he came to us. An examination revealed a kyphotic swelling in his lumbar area. His L1, L2 and L3 and L4 vertebrae had fused.
“We conducted a spinal surgery called Xeta Fixation of the spine using pedicle screws and rods. A titanium rod was placed between the L1 and L5 vertebrae and his fused vertebrae opened up and were held together with an external application which can be taken out after two years once healing is complete.
“The complications were with respect to the accuracy required while operating on the small size of the child’s nerves and skeletal system. We had to take extensive care not to damage adjacent nerves to ensure healthy healing post-surgery. We are happy we managed it well and successfully completed the procedure.”
Immediately following the surgery, the boy was admitted to the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit for 48 hours where his progress was closely monitored. After just seven days, the boy walked on his own accord and is continuing to make a speedy recovery.
Dr. Bhargava continued: “It is usual that patients undergoing such a surgery would need intensive physiotherapy and at least three weeks to be able to walk again. Ali has blown us away with his rapid miraculous recovery.”
Sharjah and the hospital where the ideal destination for the child’s recovery given the ongoing efforts of Her Highness (HH) Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, to make the world a better and a safer place in line with the UAE’s Year of Giving 2017, says Khaleej Times.
An elated Managing Director of Zulekha Healthcare Group, Mr. Taher Shams gushed, “Our sincere gratitude to everyone involved in rescuing Ali and helping him regain his health. We are thrilled to have been able to be a part of Ali’s successful journey of recovery and wish him a long and happy life.”
Mr. Hassan Hua of Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care (GIPLC), coordinator of the medical visit said: “Young Ali’s recovery after surgery has been described as a miracle and very rapid, to everyone’s surprise.” Such a happy ending to a story of hope, faith, and love.