Rescued from blindness: My Apollo story —Nigerian High Court Chief Registrar

Posted by News Express | 2 October 2014 | 4,066 times

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Until five years ago, Arum Ashom prided himself with having a perfect eyesight. A judicial officer with the Plateau State Government, the 55-year-old could see the faintest image hundreds of metres away.

As the then Chief Registrar of the High Court of Justice Plateau State, his responsibility required endless reading and writing as a result of the centrality of the judicial administration system. Ashom had to seek aid from medicated eye lens. He had regular check-ups but his eyesight deteriorated and he could barely see. His job was threatened.

By December 2011, Ashom could hardly identify an object 10 metres away. “I had lost not less than half of my sight as I was discharging my duties with great stress,” he recalled during an interview at his Old Legislative Quarters residence in Angwan Rukuba, Jos.

Ashom, who has a wife, four biological children and six other children of his late siblings living with him in his official quarters, had to cry out to anyone who could help. A judge in the service of the Plateau State judiciary advised him to try Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, India, for medical check-up. By the time he arrived the medical facility in India in March 2012, Ashom said that he could hardly “identify a face a couple of metres away from me.”

The judicial officer continued his story: “After the preliminaries in the hospital, I found myself before a very gentle and polite consultant named Mallika Goyal. After a thorough examination of my eyes using some complex instruments, she announced to me that I had retinal detachment problems with the left eye worst affected as it was virtually closed. I was visibly shaken with indescribable worry but the doctor’s reassuring words that they would do their best to see if they could save at least the right eye gave some little hope. The doctor did laser operations on the eyes and discharged me with advice to come back for major surgeries in June that same year.”

The patient had developed the sight problem as a result of his diabetic condition, which he said he inherited. He was advised to maintain good diet in order to keep the diabetes under control before his second trip to Apollo Hospital.

Ashom returned to Apollo Hospital towards the end of May 2012. Dr. Goyal went to work. In the first week of June 2012, the surgeries were performed on the two eyes with a seven-day interval in between each procedure.

“The result of those surgeries are the wonder stories of my life,” an elated Ashom said. “When the stitches were removed, my sight on both eyes resumed as if the eyeballs were replaced with new ones. When the doctor was discharging me to return home I could not couch the near-to-adequate words to attempt to express my profound joy and gratitude to her for the miracles God performed on me through her. The doctor simply smiled at me and responded: ‘I have only done my job, and that is my satisfaction.’ ”

Ashom went on review visits in September 2013 during which period the silicon Dr. Goyal had inserted in his eye was removed. He was at the hospital again last month. According to him, his eyes were confirmed to be in perfect condition. “I can see and read very well without even the need for glasses in most cases,” he stated. “I have fully regained my sight. I can read 24 hours if I want without the help of glasses.”

Indeed, Ashom picked the vehicle of the interview team right from over 400 metres away as they made their way to his residence. He relived his trauma before the surgeries: “Before the surgeries, if a call came to my phone, I would not see who was calling. Sometimes I would misplace something and would have to check for it with my hands. I was heading towards total darkness.”

The judicial officer described Apollo Hospitals in superlatives. He gushed: “What amazes and impresses me most with the hospital generally is the feeling of healing one experiences as you walk into the sparklingly clean sprawling edifice. A sight of the state-of-the-art consulting equipment and gadgets and the confident-looking doctors and nurses strengthens one’s confidence and hope of recovery.”

Ashom commended Apollo Hospitals for easing the travel trouble of their international patients. He said the hospital’s International Department took control of travel logistics right from the moment a potential patient made contact. His words: “Once you transmit your report, they almost instantly reply you. Their networking is marvellous. The next day, you’ll see a reply on your enquiries. In order to enable you get to the hospital, they will write letters to the embassy here (in Nigeria) and copy you. That eases your visa processing. It is not as difficult as people think.”

Arrangements are also made to receive international patients at Rajiv Ghandi International Airport, Hyderabad, and convey them to the hospital where accommodation would have been arranged, Ashom disclosed. “To make things easy and safe for the patient, the hospital’s pharmacy is stocked with every drug that would be prescribed,” he further said.

Ashom owes a debt of gratitude to the Plateau State Governor, Dr. Jonah David Jang, who sponsored his first trip to Apollo Hospital. “If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have been able to make it,” he said. He also acknowledged the contribution of the recently retired Chief Judge of the state, Justice Lazarus Dakyen, under whom Ashom served as Chief Registrar. “He showered me with all the love, all the compassion and all the support to make the trip possible,” Ashom said. “I owe profound gratitude to them. Above all, I give glory to God Almighty.”

•Photo shows Plateau State High Court Chief Registrar Arum Ashom.

Source: News Express

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