On behalf of Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Temitope Oluwagbemi and Aramide Kasunmu, I welcome you all to this press conference on baby Michael Alvez’s fight with facial haemangioma.
On March 16th, Kate Henshaw rescued very sick baby Michael and his mother of the streets of Lagoswith the help of two individuals named Mr. Temitope Oluwagbemi and Ms. Aramide Kasunmu, and got both mother and child admitted into LUTH. Kate an Ambassador of Project Alert, immediately called the Executive Director of Project Alert, Mrs. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma to intimate her on it and request Project Alert’s active involvement in the case.
On March 18th all parties met at LUTH, and had a meeting with Dr. Mofikoya, the consultant attending to baby Michael. Michael was diagnosed with ulcerated, infected facial haemangioma caused by vascular malfunction, worsened by the fact that night and day, sun and rain, his mother Mary was on the road with him, begging for help. Facial haemangioma is a benign condition (non-cancerous). The doctor informed us then, that Michael would have to be on admission for an initial one month for further tests to be carried out, and treatment to commence. That immediately raised the question: ‘’How would Baby Michael’s hospitalization and medical treatment be funded’’. It was at that point that the RESCUERS (Kate Henshaw, Project Alert, Temitope and Aramide) commenced a public fund raising to help keep Michael and his mother in hospital and pay the hospital bills. A dedicated account known as Project Alert. Baby Michael, was opened for donations.
Same day Baby Michael was admitted in LUTH, the Lagos State Social Welfare department, was notified. They referred us to the Social Welfare office in LUTH, headed by Mrs. Funmi Doherty. We had meetings with her and jointly we commenced work on seeing to the welfare and medical treatment of baby Michael in LUTH.
We would like to thank members of the public who donated their widow’s mite to help treat Michael. Your kind donations helped in paying hospital bills for the three (3) months Michael was on admission in LUTH, until when we had to take him out on June 20th, when nurses commenced strike action. Till date the strike is still on. We had to take Michael to Project Alert Shelter for continued care and close monitoring and strict adherence to administration of drugs and hospital appointment
WHY DID WE HAVE TO DO THAT YOU MAY ASK? WHY DIDN’T MICHAEL’s MOTHER, MARY TAKE HIM HOME AND CONTINUE CARING FOR HIM, APPRECIATIVE OF THE FACT THAT A GROUP OF PEOPLE HAD TAKEN UP HIS MEDICAL CARE?
This brings us to the concerns we have about the ability of Mary and her family to care for Michael, and whether it wouldn’t be best for Michael to be placed in a home. The concerns are as follows:
1. Mary since last year had been begging on the streets of Lagos Island with the baby, claiming to seek financial help to enable her seek treatment for her son. She was even aired on Television Continental, TVC sometime in Nov/Dec 2015, which resulted in people donating. One single donation of N450k by a lady stood out. So how come Mary was still on the street with the child till March 2016 when Kate Henshaw and Temitope Oluwagbemi saw her? Why wasn’t the baby in hospital?
2. While in hospital, we received reports from other mothers in the ward and the nurses about Mary’s restlessness and aggressiveness to all including her baby. On April 24th, she fought a hospital maid and threatened to burn down the ward. Mary is a commercial sex worker and got pregnant with Michael in the course of work. She felt caged in the hospital. She was sent out of the ward by the matron and nurses, and we had to beg that she be allowed in, after she promised to be of good behaviour.
3. In same April, we went visiting the home address in Ikorodu that Mary gave us. We met her aged mother and brothers, all with no visible sign of means of livelihood. We found out that Mary had 3 other children, and was in the practice of disappearing from home for months,getting pregnant along the line, delivering the children and coming back home to dump them with her aged mother, who has a bad leg.
4. On the night of June 9th, she walked out of the hospital, leaving her baby behind. In the early hours of June 10th, we received a call from the ward that baby Michael had been abandoned by his mother. Immediately we called the hospital Social Welfare department and her senior sister Syndi. We gathered at the hospital and met with Mrs. Doherty, Head Social Welfare, LUTH, where it was decided that Mary not be allowed back into the ward and the family pleaded that their mother and a 16 year old niece come stay with Michael in the ward instead. As the meeting was going on, Mary appeared very dirty and smelling.
5. On June 20th, about a week after LUTH nurses had commenced their strike, we had to go pick Michael and mama from the ward, as all patients had been discharged and they were the last people remaining. Not wanting a roll back on the medical gains we had made on Michael’s health, and with a mother more interested in prostitution, we had to decide to take Michael to Project Alert shelter, where he still is with mama (his grandmother as his carer). This has moved our initial mission from only caring for Michael’s medical needs to feeding and housing Michael, mama and the 16 year old who assists mama in running around (going to market etc).
The road to full recovery is a long one for baby Michael. At the last hospital appointment we had with Dr. Mofikoya on Thursday July 21st, he stated that taking out the growth through surgery will leave a hole on Michael's face as according to him,the tissue under the growth is abnormal. He said the tissue is not healthy and that is why surgery is not a good option at LUTH. The treatment plan he thus has for Michael is continued administration of the drugsPropanolol (tablet) and Nylol Gel (cream)for gradual compression and shrinking. But that according to him, will take a long process. He used an example of a patient (a boy) he has been treating since the child was a baby and the child is now 10yrs and they are still on it. He said that is the treatment they can give Baby Michael in LUTH.
Thus with this long road to discovery for Michael; a clearly unfit mother; a grandmother who is not strong enough and capable of caring for Michael; and the need for good and hygienic management of Michael’s ailment, WHERE SHOULD MICHAEL BE PLACED? WHO SHOULD CARE FOR MICHAEL? We the RESCUERS are committed to baby Michael’s medical costs. However the social welfare issues surrounding his mother, circumstances of birth, and the family in general are HUGE.
Thank you and GOD BLESS.