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Monday, September 8, 2014

Meet The Three Sisters Who Strangely Went Blind Within 3 Years

 

According To Punch: This is a story of 3 sisters that went blind one after the other. Their story is a really sad one. They have a condition called, 'Retinitis Pigmentosa'. It's a long report, but it's worth reading. See it as a way of raising awareness about the existence of the disease. Read below,


It started with Rebecca.  
“In 2010, I had just turned 16. I was preparing to go back to school after the holidays but I had problems with my sight. I was having difficulty seeing clearly especially at night. My parents took me to a hospital, the doctor examined me and said I had cataract. I was given medication for cataract but instead of improving the situation, it became worse. I could still see faintly until one morning in 2011 when I woke up and found out to my horror that the entire place was dark. I could not see anything,” 

Their father, 60-year old Kolawole Samson is a driver who also engages in  farming to make ends meet while his wife is a petty trader. The sight of his daughter going blind at such a young age was gut-wrenching for their father. He ran from pillar to post. 
“I tried everything. I took her everywhere I knew. We visited clinic after clinic. I went to traditional medical practitioners; I spent all the little money I had. I even ran into debt.”
Their going blind caused a stir in the remote neighbourhood of Ifo, Ogun State where the Samsons reside. 
“People said all kinds of things. Some people said their mother was responsible for their blindness. At a clinic where I took them to, one doctor told me that I was too old to have children and that was the reason why my daughters were losing their sight,” 
Their dad thought his travails would end with Rebecca but he was mistaken. Like a scene in a horror movie, sad events began to unfold for Samson and his family at a rapid and unrelenting pace.

In 2011, while he was trying to increase his work load at the farm, doing night shifts as a security guard and taking on other odd jobs to be able to pay off his accumulated debts, he returned very late from work to find his 14-year-old daughter, Funmi, rubbing her eyes vigorously. He took a napkin, dipped it in warm water and massaged her eyes. That seemed to calm her down a bit. Samson then waited impatiently for daylight to take his daughter to the clinic.

At the clinic, Funmi was diagnosed with cataract. The news hit Samson like a bomb. His wife was no help. She could not stop weeping. Emptied of every kobo, Samson and his wife watched helplessly as sight gradually slipped away from their second daughter’s eyes. By 2012, Funmi was completely blind.

As Funmi bade farewell to her sight, Kemi also started manifesting symptoms of cataract. Samson was too helpless to help his young teenage daughter. He borrowed some more money for drugs but at the back of his mind, he knew she would go blind.
“At a point, I convinced myself that the clinics I visited were not good enough. So, I borrowed money and took them to a clinic in Sango-Ota. At the hospital, they discovered that the balls of their eyes were shrinking and had become too small for the girls to see properly. I did not know what was happening to my children. Those years were the most painful period in my family,” he said.
Unknown to Samson, his children had been struck by a rare genetic condition known as Retinitis Pigmentosa(RP). The disease makes people go blind at a certain stage in their adult lives.

According to experts, the condition runs in families but Samson said there was no known history of the ailment in his family.
“Rebecca’s immediate younger brother does not have the condition. Funmi, who has it, is the third after Rebecca. I have never seen such a thing in my family, I don’t know where it came from,” he said
Explaining why it is possible for Samson not to have been familiar with any history of RP in his family lineage, the lead ophthalmologist and Vitreo-Retinal specialist at the Eye Foundation Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Femi Oderinlo, said RP has a tendency to skip an entire generation or two, due to a process of gene mutation.

There are other conditions which people with RP can inherit. One example of this is Usher Syndrome where people develop the dual disability of hearing loss and retinitis pigmentosa.

It's a disease without cure

Just like the Samson sisters, Adekoya Razaq, a trained broadcast journalist who used to work at a radio station, also has RP. But he did not discover this until 2012, when his vision was failing and he went for surgery. After the operation that gulped about N750,000, he became totally blind. For him, the surgery held a lot of hope. He was desperate to go back to work, but when he became totally blind after it, his life literally came to a halt.

He said, 
“I was devastated. It was a doctor at that same eye clinic who told me about a centre for the blind.”
Wanting to continue with life, Razaq said he took the advice of the doctor and proceeded to the Vocational Training Centre (VTC), Oshodi, Lagos, a facility where the visually impaired are rehabilitated.

Now a graduate of the VTC, Razaq said during the one year he spent at the centre, he took a refresher course at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria to prepare him for when he returns to broadcasting.

His ambition to be a broadcaster, he later realised, was more difficult than the proverbial camel passing through the eye of the needle.

Razaq continued: 
“I attended an interview with a magazine early this year and they told me, ‘sorry, we don’t believe in the blind.’ That is the problem we have. People believe the blind should sit by the roadside while they throw money at them.
“I was somewhere to submit my CV and I met some of the firm’s top managers. After everything, one of them told me, ‘sorry, we don’t have space for the blind, but take this N2,000.’ I told him to keep his money I did not need it. What I needed at that point in time was a job. I needed them to give me a chance.”
But he is not ready to give up. If nobody is ready to employ him, Razaq has found a way of creating employment for himself.

“I am putting my writing skill to work. I write on relationship and information technology. Some of my articles have been published. Before the end of the month, I should release an e –book. I have written about 12 to 15 pages.”
Currently, no treatment is available to cure RP or arrest its progress because it is the result of incorrect instructions being passed to the body’s chemistry by faulty inherited genes.

Personal Interview with the sisters




Kemi

How old are you? 
I am 16 years old.

When did you come to the Vocational Training Centre?
I came here in 2013.

Were you born this way?
No, I slept, when I woke up I realised I could not see.

At what point did you lose your sight?
I was partially blind in 2012 and I went completely blind in 2013.

Is it a family problem?
I don’t know. The doctor said I had cataract.

What did your parents say when this happened to you?
They did not say anything.

How many are you in the family?
We are seven and three of us are blind

Are your other siblings all boys or girls?
They are two girls and two boys.





 Funmi

What is your name?
My name is Funmi Kolawole Samson

How old are you?
I am 18 years old

Where are you from?
We are from Ogun State

Are your parents based in Lagos?
No, they are in Ogun State. My dad is from Ondo state while my mum is from Ogun State.

When did you start having problems with your eyes?
I was partially blind in 2011 and I went completely blind in 2012.

Is it a family problem?
I don’t know. I went to the hospital and the doctor said it was cataract.


Rebecca

What is your name?
My name is Rebecca Kolawole Samson

At what point did you lose your sight?
I was seeing partially in 2010 but I went totally blind in 2011.

What did the doctor say?
He said I had cataract. I had just turned 16 and I realised I was having problems seeing very well, especially at night. When they said I had cataract, I was given some medications but they did not help. It became worse. One morning in 2011, I woke up to discover to my horror that the whole room was dark. I could not see anything.

I learnt that you have been admitted into secondary school?
Yes ma

What is the name of the school?
Adeniran Grammar school, Ogbomosho.

What about Kemi and Funmi?
They also gained admission. We are all starting at the same time

How does it feel? Are you happy?
Yes ma. I am very happy.

How do you feel to be a student again ?
It feels great. Everyone wants to go to school. I did not think it was possible, considering our condition, but I am very happy.

How are you relating with your friends?
I am relating very well with them.

Do you have a boyfriend?
No!

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