20 Feb 2016

3-Year-Old Boy Who Drank Caustic Soda Left By Teachers, Still In LUTH | Parents Need N2.5M (PHOTOS)

Three-year-old Darasimi Ogunwunmi still lies in the Ward E4 of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos being fed through a tube, a feeding that costs his impoverished parents N800 per day.

The boy clings to life barely as his parents run from one point to another pleading with sympathetic ears for any amount of money they can spare. So far, the N100, N500 they are getting have just been drops in the ocean of the N2.5m needed for major surgeries that would allow the boy to start a new life.

PUNCH reported on January 30 that Darasimi drank caustic soda left carelessly around his classroom by teachers of his private school, Fahsal Children’s School, Ilupeju Estate, Idiroko, Ogun State, on November 19.

The boy had reportedly complained of thirst but when his teachers did not listen to him, he went to a bowl, which he thought contained water and drank from it. He was only discovered when he was crying and vomiting blood.

Doctors said the boy’s stomach and throat were severely damaged making it impossible for him to eat normally in the last three months.

When Punch correspondent visited the boy at LUTH on Wednesday, doctors were preparing him for another round of test, which was to be conducted at a laboratory in Oshodi.

A doctor told Saturday PUNCH that the boy was to be taken for barium swallow test which is an X-ray imaging test used to visualise the structures of the oesophagus.

“The test involves him swallowing liquid barium in the process of taking the X-ray images. This would allow us to determine what kind of reconstruction is needed. This is a preparatory test. After this, the issue of money would determine when the major surgeries the boy still needs would be done,” the doctor said.

Darasimi’s father, Owolabi, said only the magnanimity of members of the public can save the child now.

The family has opened a bank account in the boy’s name to help raise money for his surgery – FCMB account no: 3528300017; account name: Darasimi Ogunwunmi.

Owolabi’s agony about his son’s state was immediately obvious when our correspondent met him.

He said looking at his son suffer has been the most agonising thing in his life.

The father said, “I cry like a baby anytime I look at my son and see what he has become. Sometimes, when we are at home, my wife and I just cry for the boy because we are helpless. For the last three months, such a young child has been suffering every minute of every day.

“Our child had always been a healthy boy before the incident. We never took him to the hospital for any problem since he was born. Some children would develop fever when they are growing teeth, this never happened to Darasimi. That was how healthy he was. Now he is at the mercy of drugs.

“Right now, there is nowhere for us to turn to. Getting money from our other family members has been a dead end. If I had a house somewhere, I would gladly sell it off to pay for my child’s treatment. I just want my child to be normal again.

“Unfortunately for us, I cannot abandon my child to continue my usual work, which is where I could have got some little amount of money. This has further worsened our financial situation.”

Owolabi said their desperation has led them to some churches to plead for money and prayers for the boy.

“I am sure it is the prayer that is still keeping him alive. Because if it is just about medical treatment, he would have died because we cannot afford the treatments,” he said.

According to Owolabi, Darasimi was enrolled in Fahsal Children’s School for safety reasons in the first place.

He said he thought because the school is closer to where they live, the danger of going to school daily for such a young child would be minimised.

“We wanted to keep him close. How would we have known that it is that same school that he would nearly be killed?” he said.

The report about Darasimi has drawn the ire of members of the public, many of whom have called for the prosecution of the proprietress of the school, Mrs. Fausat Abubakar.

The proprietress has so far shunned every attempt by Punch correspondent to get her reaction about how caustic soda was left carelessly around children in the premises of her school.

One of the online readers of PUNCH with profile name Benbella, believes the Ogun State Government should even pick up the tabs for the boy’s treatment while taking an action against the school proprietress.

“Ogun State should pay for the medical treatment and arrest the proprietress. No doubt, it is the school’s mistake. The state must help urgently. I hope the good citizens should help too, N2.5m is not that much, alright,” she said.

Another comment from a reader named Ekwu followed the same trajectory, as he said, “How can they allow this proprietress to still roam free after the reckless endangerment and attempted negligent homicide of a minor? And no help for the said minor?”

Another reader named Olujeda had the same opinion. “By now, the Ogun State Government should have arrested the proprietress and closed down the school as this may likely be just example of the lawlessness around in the school. This is pathetic,” his post stated.

Punch correspondent contacted the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, again on Wednesday to get updates on the steps which have so far been taken on the matter.

She said that a team was already working on the case to investigate the circumstances surrounding what befell the boy.

“I expect the report on the findings when I get back to the office,” she said.

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