Yar'Adua cannot rule on life support- Doctors

2010-01-31
THE NATION Newspaper- Sunday Oguntola and Omotayo Obe


The chances of President Musa Yar’Adua governing the nation while on life support machine have been declared impossible by medical doctors.

They spoke following reports that two life support machines have been bought into the nation for use by the ailing president who has been away hospitalised in Saudi-Arabia for 69 days.

Our correspondent gathered that Yar’Adua’s close aides believe the machines would enable the President continue his recuperation in Nigeria to put paid to the agitation for him to handover to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

Chairman of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Lagos State Chapter, Dr Adedamola Dada told our correspondent that patients on life support machine are mostly unconscious and therefore unable to perform any task.

His words, "A patient on life support is seriously ill and unable to do anything. Obviously such a person cannot take any decision nor do anything other than attending to his health needs. Sometimes, they are in coma or conscious. Even if they are not in coma, you try to induce unconsciousness because the patient may not be able to withstand some of those gadgets when they are fully conscious. You actually even need to put the patient in a state of unconsciousness.

"I believe very strongly that if he is fit enough to fly back, he won’t rule this country on life support because it is very incongruent. Someone on life support may not be aware of life and cannot take care of himself, let alone taking care of others".

Corroborating, Dr. Akinsanya Okanrede of the Department of Medicine, Lagos State, University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi Araba, said a patient with Yar’Adua’s level of illness requires advance life support with which he cannot perform presidential functions.

"For a patient with renal kidney failure on dialysis, he can go about his normal life. But his (Yar’Adua) is beyond that; he has been on mechanical ventilator at one point or the other. The way it is, he is almost becoming dependent on devices.

"There are small machines that a patient can move around with but then a president can’t be at a point. He has to move to perform presidential duties. He has to go for meetings and all that. That is going to be a Herculean task and I don’t know how he could do that. If it were just renal failure, he could do all of that and be fine but not with his own degree of illness."

Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Adedayo Bakare of Amazing Grace Hospital, Ijebu Ode, said a patient on life support cannot perform any task, let alone preside over a large country like Nigeria.

According to him, "I would say that the chances are rather slim that he will be able to carry out his Presidential functions effectively because being placed on a life support machine means being a high risk patient. Of course we can not counter the fact that the president will need all the good health he can get to be able to function well in a high pressured job as the President of the country."

On whether Yar’Adua is not better off left to recuperate before resuming duties, Okanrede said, "I am sure the president knows that and that is why he has not come back with all the pressures on him to resume duties. I am sure he is at a very great dilemma.

"He has left his seat for over two months with nobody to occupy it and the nation is really going down. So what does he do? Much as he wants to return, he realises he is also fighting for his life. I wish him well but the nation is going through hard times."

Online findings by our correspondent revealed that a patient on advanced life support such as Yar’Adua’s may spend between $2,000-$4,000 dollars per day to use the machines.

 

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