Doctor Emeka Chugbo last week became a victim of the coronavirus pandemic, but not for any fault of his.
The consultant gyeanacologist unknowingly treated a woman patient who had issues related to his gyeanacology field even at the invitation of a friend and colleague. But they never knew the patient had contracted coronavirus until it was late. At such time of discovery, he started making attempts to save his own life, but eventually lost the battle.
His family is however miffed that what has been circulating in the media don’t represent the facts about what actually happened to the doctor in his middle age who painfully left behind his aged parents.
To correct the errors, his family decided to put the narrative straight and make the public know that Chugbo never knowingly admitted a Covid-19 patient in his private facility in contravention of the Ministry of Health rules.
As his family we want to clarify the myriad of misinformation and fabrications put out and recycled in the public by different people via different media channels since his painful demise on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria.
At a most sensitive time like this when Nigeria and the world at large are grappling with not only the tragic impact of COVID-19 pandemic but also dealing with viral distortions of facts on the same, allowing misinformation to fester may do more damage than the dreaded Coronavirus itself.
Right now, the bereaved family, aged parents, siblings and friends of Dr. Chugbo are being subjected to more emotional distress and stigmatization by contrived tissues of lies woven around our late beloved sons unfortunate death from COVID-19 complications. Hence, this public statement becomes urgent and necessary to shift facts from half-truths and lies, so that the general public is not misinformed and misled by previous information they might have been exposed to.
Before he was admitted to LUTH, from the information we gathered, Dr. Chugbo developed COVID-19 complications after being previously invited by a colleague to attend to a patient in distress with gynaecology-related issues at a missionary health facility in Lagos, where he used to offer free consulting services. So, contrary to some false statements making the rounds, Dr. Chugbo neither intentionally admitted a known COVID-19 patient nor treated the patient for COVID-19 when he contracted the infection. He was innocently assisting the patient, with her COVID-19 infectivity unknown to him.
It should be made clear that once Dr. Chugbo himself started showing symptoms of COVID-19, he contacted the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) immediately.
But when NCDC was not responding timely to his call, he walked into LUTH and was admitted because of his identity. Our son, Dr. Emeka Chugbo, was an unlucky victim of the current pandemic and the lack of adequate equipment to support his treatment did not help his case.
At this point, we must also correct some wrong information and false impressions being funnelled to the public on our late son.
First, he never had any pre-existing condition or medical history of asthma,going by our intimate family knowledge of him from childhood to adulthood and LUTH never issued any public statements as being circulated on a pre-existing health condition of Dr. Chugbo. It is curious and unethical, therefore, that the media should make it an issue for Dr. Chugbo to establish a link to his COVID-19 complications and death.
Second, the true age of Dr. Chugbo at the time of his demise was 51 years, not 60 years as claimed by distortion purveyors. He was born on 16th June 1968 at LUTH. What would carriers of misinformation gain from distorting and marking up a COVID-19 victims age? Is it an act of ignorance or laziness to find out the fact? Or is it a conspiratorial attempt at using our son as a statistic to validate the narrative that people of advanced age are more prone to the fatal complications of the killer viral infection?
Well, we hope the friends and acquaintances of Dr. Chugbo as well as the general public are better informed and properly guided by this setting right of records done here, so that those wrong impressions are not left hanging around the memories of our late son.
As a professional, he was an ethical, qualified, brilliant, competent and experienced medical doctor who qualified as a Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the mid 90s at the prestigious LUTH before he went into private practice. As a family man, he was a loving husband to his expectant Lawyer wife and a doting father to his 4 years old daughter. Even more, he was a selfless and compassionate person who routinely provided pro-bono, missionary medical care for needy people, having being influenced by his humble Catholic background and a pharmacist father. Surely, such a kind soul does not deserve his memories being tainted with toxic distortion of facts.
In conclusion, as we grieve the untimely and painful loss of our dear Dr. Emeka Chugbo and pray for his soul to rest in peace, we also pray that many other families in our shoes would find comfort at this difficult time. And may God in His infinite mercy help put an end to the rampage of this COVID-19 pandemic in our country Nigeria and the entire world. Amen.