Life support machines arrive ahead of Yar'Adua


There were strong indications on Sunday that the Presidency had imported two life support machines for use by ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, preparatory, apparently, to his planned return later this week.

A very reliable source in the aviation sector disclosed to our correspondents that the equipment arrived in the country from Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The source, who declined to be named due to the security implication of his disclosure, explained that one of the machines was for dialysis while the other would be for managing Yar’Adua’s heart-related condition.

Our correspondents gathered that the machines were as big as those of Coca Cola vending machines.

According to him, the arrival of the machines came exactly two days after two of the President’s children (a male and a female) and a grand child arrived from Saudi Arabia in a smaller chartered aircraft.

Investigations revealed on Sunday that the children that arrived on the special flight on Thursday night were Musa and his sister Nafisat who is married to the Bauchi State governor, Alhaji Isa Yuguda. The President’s grandchild that was also on the flight is said to be Nafisat’s baby.

Yar’Adua has seven children from Turai (five females and two males) and two from his second wife, Hauwa.

It was gathered that the charter services aircraft which brought the President’s family could not bring the life-support equipment as planned, due to the huge size of the expensive machines.

Our source said, “A bigger aircraft had to be arranged to fly the machines to Nigeria because the one that brought the children back to Nigeria was small.”

The small aircraft, our correspondents learnt, belongs to a foreign airline that has a Nigerian as its chairman.

The aviation source said the chairman of the airline gave an instruction on Thursday that a plane should be sent to Jeddah to bring in the President’s advance party and the life-support equipment on Thursday.

He said, “The equipment are the size of Coca-Cola vending machines. One is a dialysis machine for the President’s use. They were too large for the charter aircraft. Then it was decided that the President’s children be flown back on Thursday while a bigger aircraft was sent to bring the machines to Nigeria.

“It looks to me that they were sending the equipment to Nigeria to set up in the Presidential villa so that they can cater to the special needs of the President here in Nigeria.”

Another impeccable source disclosed on Sunday that with the importation of the life-support machines, it was likely that Yar’Adua might be flown back to Nigeria any moment from now.

The source said, “The President’s wife and his Chief Security Officer, Mr. Yusuf Tilde, got an assurance from the Saudi doctors that the President could continue his treatment and recuperation in Nigeria, if they could install the same type of life-support machines that are keeping him alive in Jeddah.

“A different set of the same machines have been installed in the Presidential plane in Jeddah which is expected to fly the President in this week.”

A presidency source also confirmed that a presidential jet was still in Saudi Arabia awaiting the discharge of the President.

A national daily had reported on Sunday that Saudi authorities had come under pressure to facilitate the discharge of the President because of the implications of his continued stay and the power vacuum created in its wake.

Yar’Adua left Nigeria 63 days ago for treatment at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Jeddah.

He is said to be suffering from acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the outer membrane of the heart.

Medical experts say that the ailment is a common complication of kidney failure, which could have occurred due to an infection.

THE PUNCH had reported exclusively on January 11, 2010 that Yar’Adua had been placed on life support since December 24 when his health worsened.

Our correspondents had gathered that he was transferred in the last week of December from the Intensive Care Unit of King Faisal Hospital to one of the supporting wards in the Royal Suite, after he suffered “multiple organ failure.”

A source had said then, “The President was moved from the ICU of the hospital on the night of Thursday, December 24 to the supporting ward of the hospital in Jeddah where he has been on life support since.”

When contacted on Sunday, the Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters, Chief Polycarp Nwite, said he was not competent to speak on what the machines would be used for.

“I am a political adviser to the President, I am not his medical adviser. Why don’t you contact his medical adviser?” he said.

Efforts to reach the President’s advisers on Media and Economy, Messrs Segun Adeniyi and Tanimu Yakubu, proved abortive, as neither picked our correspondents’ calls nor responded to text messages sent to their mobile phones.

However, a cardio-thoracic surgeon at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Olayiwola Ogunleye, who reacted to the latest development, said that it would be difficult for any person on life-support to govern effectively.

He said, “Such facilities are in LUTH and Lagoon Hospital. The problem is that anybody on life-support cannot face rigorous tasks. For example, he cannot breathe without the aid of a ventilator.

“If he is on dialysis machine, he will have to do dialysis at least three times in a week. On each occasion, he can spend between three and 12 hours on dialysis. Such a person cannot do too much.”

But the National Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association said that if such facilities had been brought into the country, they must be for the advancement of the health care in the country.

“I am just hearing that. I really doubt if such equipment can be brought for the President alone. If they have been brought, they must be for the advancement of the healthcare in Nigeria generally.”


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