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Baby born without anus

Baby Abdullahi Abubakar was born in June 2013, in a remote village along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja, to the family of Fulani herdsmen, Mallam Abubakar and Mrs Hadiza Abubakar. The baby was delivered successfully, but the parents, who took a closer look at their newborn, discovered he had no external opening of the rectum, that, is, no anus for passing out stool.

The baby's stomach kept swelling, as the waste remained in the intestines. The parents were told to get rid of the baby, since there was no hope the boy would survive.

However, after about a month since the baby's birth, his mother took him to a housing estate where she works as a cleaner. One of the residents, Mrs. Charity Davou Dawang, happens to be the president, Dependable Basic Child Foundation, an Abuja-based non-governmental organisation.

The child was subsequently rushed to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, where doctors performed a series of operations to save the baby.

The head, paediatric department of the hospital, Dr Samson Olori, narrates:

"By the time the baby was brought he was almost giving up, but we worked round the clock to ensure that he was stabilised and had his surgeries.

"He underwent three series of surgery. The first stage was colostomy which is the opening and removal of the intestines for the baby to be able to pass waste temporarily. The second stage was the opening and the creation of the new anus which is the major surgery, while the final stage was the colostomy closure. All these stages of the surgery were successful.

"Today, the boy is passing out stool normally on the anus we created for him, and the parents are happy, and we, too, are happy. Baby Abdullahi is not the first, second or the third that we have handled in this hospital. So it is what we have been doing here," the Doctor explained.

Imperforate anus may occur in several forms such as when rectum ends in a pouch that does not connect with the colon, or when the rectum has openings to other structures. These may include the urethra, bladder, base of the penis or scrotum in boys, or vagina in girls.

The cause of the problem, according to Dr Olori, could be traceable to infection of the parent: "With exposure to some toxins, that can happen. For instance the mother during early pregnancy could suffer some form of infections or viral infections. It can also affect the process of movement of some tissues, and that can be responsible for some of these effects. But if you are able to go deeper, you may find out that some of them may be due to genetic reasons."

The chief medical director (CMD) of the teaching hospital, Dr Peter Alabi, noted that Baby Abullahi is a milestone, even though the hospital has been doing it before.

"For us in the hospital, it is a great opportunity because all the doctors who carried out the operations on this child are Nigerians and also members of staff of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada."

Dr Alabi who spoke through the chairman, medical advisory committee (CMAC) of the hospital, Dr Haruna Abubakar, said doctors in the hospital would even do more if all the resources they need to do their work are made available.

"We are ready to do a lot for the patients in the hospital, but because of the challenges in the health care system, we need to have funds to access these services, because they are not for free," he said and called on Nigerians to look inwards for solutions to their medical challenges instead of travelling abroad on medical tourism.

Mrs. Dawang said her foundation, Dependable Basic Child Foundation, spent over N2.9m as expenses for the successful operation. She explained further that the foundation raised the needed fund through the assistance of both the media houses and many philanthropic Nigerians, especially Alhaji Aliyu Dangote and others who contributed, adding that her foundation took up the operation because Baby Abdullahi, as a Nigerian, has the right to live.

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