A two-month-old baby was laid up with hernia! At the height of the baby’s medical challenge, his whole intestinal organ had been ‘housed’ in his scrotum. He couldn’t excrete for several days; so, he battled, though helplessly, with the attendant pains.
Consequently, the lot fell on his already traumatised parents to begin a frantic search for a cure to the ailment that had made their beloved child bedridden right before their eyes. So, they moved from one hospital to another.
Yet, it was always the same story: they were always advised to come back for the surgery when the baby would have been two years.
But help soon came their way when, by fortuitous circumstance, they came to a non-governmental organisation, The Grace Hernia Foundation. The doctor said to them “Ordinarily, you are not supposed to operate hernia on a child that is less than two years old.”
They had gone to some General Hospitals and some big private hospitals, where they were advised to come back when the child is two years old.
But there was no way the baby would have survived the two years! The surgery was done because the blood supply to the area was being compromised with high suspicion of strangulation. The baby survived and is still alive today.
Also, a 45-year-old welder was under the vice-like grip of the life-threatening ailment of hernia for several years. It all began with some chronic pains in the lower part of his abdomen in 2010. The father of four went through hell during the period. Initially, he had ignorantly thought it was a spiritual attack, so he sought refuge in a number of churches.
But he soon knew better that all he needed was an urgent medical intervention. Consequently, he practically flew to a General Hospital in Ogun State.
He was given three-month appointment after the first visit for no obvious reason. Afterwards, second and third appointments were given for another three months apiece.
Aware that delay might be an invitation to danger, the man was then referred to Graceland Hernia Foundation in October 2012, where he eventually smelt peace after undergoing a successful surgery on his second day at the NGO.
What is hernia?
Hernia is a protrusion of normal intestinal organs which break through a defective wall in the body. We have normal organs that are supposed to be inside us, but because there is a defect in the wall or anywhere in the body, these normal organs will now migrate outside from where they are supposed to be, thereby constituting a nuisance.
There must be an organ that is mobile, which will form the contents of the hernia; there must be a wall that is weak in structure as a result of a disease or a congenital abnormality, so you now have this structure that is mobile, pushing through the wall and creating a sac.
Hernia will normally have a neck, sac and content. There is always a neck through which the sac is protruding and there is a sac that contains the contents. They are not necessarily diseases; it is just because the wall is weak.
Hernia constitutes more than 70 per cent of the major surgical burdens facing Nigerians.
Out of every 10 people with hernia, nine are male, with a higher incidence among men 40 to 59 years of age. The congenital type is also common in children, especially the pre-term male neonate.
The risk factors in men are obesity, chronic cough, constipation and heavy lifting. Farmers are also at risk probably because of the hard labour they engaged in.
Among women, taller height, chronic cough, umbilical hernia, old age, and rural residence have been associated with a higher incidence of inguinal hernia.
Symptomatic patients often have groin pain, which can sometimes be severe. It may also be a swelling in the groin that may appear with lifting and be accompanied by sudden pain.
An impulse (increase in swelling) may be palpable on coughing. Inguinal hernias may cause a burning, gurgling, or aching sensation in the groin, and a heavy or dragging sensation may worsen toward the end of the day and after prolonged activity. An abdominal bulge may disappear when the patient is in the lying position.
The definitive treatment of hernia is surgery, but this will be discussed in detail in the next piece.
Graceland Hernia Foundation is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation set up mainly for the relief and general amelioration of human suffering; and to also promote welfare activities aimed at overall improvement in the general wellbeing of Nigerians.
The Graceland Hernia Foundation is organising a surgical mission next month in Ajah, Lagos, where all forms of hernias and hydrocoeles in children, the elderly and the young will be operated on after necessary screenings.
Date: Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2, 2015.Time: 8:00am.
Contact details: 08023724546, 08186549147
The leader of the surgical team is Dr. Paul Jesuyajolu, the founder of Graceland Hernia Foundation, and executive member of the National Association of Rural Surgical Practitioners of Nigeria. He is also a member of the Association of Rural Surgeons of India.
Kindly visit http://www.gracelandherniafoundation.com and http://www.doctoradesanya.blogspot.com/ to see the last surgical mission done a year ago, where about 50 people with hernias, hydrocoeles and other growths were operated on successfully.
To be concluded.