Daniel Emori has spent nearly half his life on a bed since he was gored by a cow in Onitsha. At 35, his condition shows no sign of improvement as our reporter finds out.
Friday evening is not for clubbing. Not for Daniel Emori. It is not for anything except lying in bed, in his urine. This has been his life since he was 20, when an injury to his spine put him in bed in 2003. Fifteen years later, he’s 35 and still bedridden.
“I thank God for everything, but nothing has changed,” he says. “Nothing has changed. I am still lying down.”
In 2003, Emori had finished secondary school and got a job supplying packaged water in Onitsha, Anambra state. He had his eyes firmly on the future when he stepped out of his delivery truck on one of his supply runs. He never expected that a stray cow would sweep him onto its horn and speed away with him.
“It was running with me on top [of its horns],” he recalls. “People were shouting. It threw me off. From the moment I fell down, I found myself in this condition.”
Bones snapped in his neck, leg and hips, x-rays later showed. Since then, he’s been on his back, in a bed, and has never left a bed in the last 15 years.
He constantly is attached to a catheter that collects his urine
Three years into his injury, his condition worsened. Bed sores ate into his back and buttock. A pressure sore also ate into his penis. An infection left a hole there. And it leaks urine, despite the catheter.
“It disturbs me. Now [the catheter] doesn’t even last a week,” Emori says. “I don’t even know what is happening in that area. It doesn’t last at all. If I just put it in, it starts leaking. Even as I am talking to you, I’m lying on top of urine.”
He’s been through a number of surgeries and treatment for his spine. A local charity funding the surgeries and upkeep relocated him into a single-room apartment in Karu on the outskirts of Abuja to keep him close to Primus Specialty Hospital.
Later he was relocated to Dutse Makaranta and got only two weeks of physiotherapy at Optimal Health. He was billed to undergo years of treatment, according to physiotherapist Chibuike Mbamalu who tended him for two weeks at optimal.
In addition to the infection under his penis, osteoporosis [weakening of the bones] set in, making his bones fragile. His knees and joints are stiff from lack of use. His feet have also swollen as fluid collected there.
A treatment regime was proposed and discussed with hospitals outside the country. It was estimated to cost N7.762 million. He couldn’t afford it in 2015. Three years on, his treatment is now valued at more than N16 million.
The treatment plan is to begin with infection control, followed by a surgery to replace his knees, allowing him to bend his legs to some degrees. A separate procedure will elongate his Achilles’ tendon to give him some movement. Another is to scrape away dead tissue from the pressure sores on his buttocks.
Only the last bit of treatment has been done to some extent. The sores have healed, he says. But they open up when he sits on them. And he has to sit in a wheelchair now and again to go to hospital.
Optimal was optimistic about his treatment. Its director Emma Udoji signed a letter enabling Emori to seek public assistance to raise funds. The good news was that Emori still had sensation in his toes.
“So there is very good hope that with proper management and intensive therapy, we hope to see some good changes,” Udoji said then.
That was in 2015. The swelling in his feet got treated. Shortly after, the outfit shut shop and relocated to Port Harcourt.
“In the last two years, I stopped the physiotherapy due to financial challenges,” says Emori.
“They referred me to India. Since there was no sponsor showing up, they just left me.”
The treatment plan developed with India’s Saket Hospital hasn’t changed. Physiotherapy and rehabilitation will depend on how well his bones and muscles respond to surgeries that the hospital has proposed. They were to cost $25,000.
After that, the plan is to ensure he gets some independence. That would mean putting him in a motorized wheelchair, so he can move and stand.
He would need at least six months of physiotherapy—two hours per session three times a day, six days a week—to strengthen his trunk an upper limb muscles before going into rehabilitation to regain mobility. That was to cost $20,500.
The plan also includes a robotic exoskeleton to help him walk but that will depend on how strong his trunk and upper limbs become.
The entire plan remains suspended until he is able to raise funds. His bank details [Daniel Emori, UBA, 2072008766] have been broadcast on television and across social media seeking help for him.
“Presently I am not receiving any treatment or medication. Since last year I have taken any medication or done any check-up,” he says.
He’s fast becoming weary but his hopes haven’t dimmed, he says. A carer lives with him in Garam, Niger State, where he now lives, some 15 minutes from Bwari. A local charity takes care of his rent and feeding. His family pays a carer N15,000 monthly to be with him 24 hours a day. They took that up after the charity stopped paying for carer duty.
The carer helps replace the catheter. But that’s a task the 35-year-old Emori wishes he could one day do for himself. Even better, he wishes he could stand up, walk into the bathroom and take a leak.
But that is not happening any time soon, not if he can’t raise the total $44,250—that’s nearly N16 million—that his treatment is estimated to cost.
“I appeal to fellow Nigerians, NGOs, government agencies to come to my rescue,” he says from his sick bed.
He can’t leave his bed without help from his carer. The catheter running into his penis is changed weekly but isn’t helping much. The collection bag attached to the catheter fills up. The next spout of urine doesn’t go into the bag. It spills out of the infected hole and sprays down his thighs, right onto the bed. Emori remains lying right in it.
Unless something happens, Emori may rot in his own piss while the stray cow that killed his dreams has been since forgotten by most. But in his mind, that terrifying encounter with the animal will live forever.