Four times my wife and I have rushed our adult son Adam to an Accident and Emergency Department in Ghana. On all four occasions the quality outcomes have been identical to the outcomes that have been achieved in our home country of Australia, within the same time frames. This in itself is absolutely amazing considering the limited resources of Ghanaian hospitals compared to those at home.
The hospitals Adam has attended in Ghana are: The Holy Family in Techiman, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi and more recently (March 2019) 4 Medical Reception Station 4 Infantry Battalion Uaddara Barracks Kumasi.
Our son has suffered from acute asthma since he was two years of age. He has been in many life threatening situations during the past twenty one years. We were very concerned having him in Ghana with such a condition.
I will detail the most recent event which began on the morning of Friday 22 March 2019. Adam awoke, shortly thereafter administering a puff of salbutamol (asthma reliever medication), followed by nebulized salbutamol. Within ten or so minutes he had gone from being reasonably relaxed and ready to begin writing assignments for his university studies to gasping for breath. We quickly helped him to the car and by the time we got out of the front gate he was very seriously struggling for life itself. He was receiving nebulized salbutamol in the car.
Half way to KATH Adam slumped back into his seat; totally gone, eyes staring without blinking, no breath, and a lifeless body. I thought he was dead. My wife crying out gave CPR as best she could in the cramped back seat with him, and thumping him on the chest in an attempt to restart his heart should it have failed. I stomped the car accelerator to the floor, crashed through a roadworks barrier to avoid stalled traffic, created another traffic lane between two streams of cars, came to a gap between two vehicles which was too narrow to enter so I just went through anyway scraping the side of a taxi, then up onto a sort of walkway to get past more stalled traffic.
I was driving very hard, got within fifteen hundred or so yards from KATH and the car’s clutch decided to explode! I coasted for probably another five hundred yards then jumped out of my dead vehicle to recruit a nearby small truck to carry Adam’s lifeless body up the hill to the hospital. Even more so now I thought Adam was dead but I wasn’t prepared to give up. The truck’s driver did not understand my frantic requests for assistance..
I ran back to the car to put Adam on my back to do a rather long dash up the hill to KATH Accident and Emergency. Being an old guy and not as strong as I used to be I was worried about doing this on my own for fear than I may have struggled going up the hill. Fortunately, two very alert 4 Battalion Infantrymen in civilian clothes were driving past and saw my desperation. Later I came to know them as L/Cpl Kyeremeh Augustine and L/Cpl Apiah David. Suddenly out of nowhere, other 4 Battalion infantrymen came running. Kyeremeh and Apiah, being first at the car heaved Adam’s lifeless body from the vehicle and took off with him up the hill toward KATH. I didn’t get the names of the other soldiers as they had gone by the time I had checked on Adam.
Kyeremeh and Apiah, instead of proceeding to KATH, turned off to the left and placed Adam on a bench inside 4 Medical Reception Station 4 Infantry Battalion. Medical personnel there were treating a less serious asthma patient in the adjoining room but immediately swung into action for Adam. Now it was up to the medical staff of 4 Reception Station to continue the rescue mission of Kyeremeh and Apiah, do the impossible and bring life back into our son’s lifeless body. Adam had already been “gone” for at least seven and probably more minutes. Led by Captain DAY Abagre – F/Sgt Gyasi NAA, F/Sgt Zong GK, S/sgt Karikari AF, SNO Wiredu A and NO Mettle swung into action proving their substantial resourcefulness and dedication to duty and life.
Within 30 or so minutes Adam’s eye lids were flickering, and heavy, hard breathing came back. It seems that even though he was lifeless and eyes glazed he still managed to have the tiniest amount of oxygen in his bloodstream. My wife and I were told that his oxygen levels were 45% when he arrived at 4 Medical Reception Station. 45% is an extremely low reading.
Wow! Adam was alive once more but brain damage came to my mind! He had been without breath for far too many long minutes. Later I learned that Kyeremeh and Apiah in their run with him to the Medical Reception Station had turned Adam upside down in an effort to re-start his breathing. Was this the crucial factor in our son having the tiniest amount of oxygen in his body , was it my wife’s CPR or was it the prayers of many including the nearby merchant women, medical staff and others? Me thinks all of the above and much more. The Almighty certainly played a major part in Adam being alive today. Certainly if Kyeremeh and Apiah had gone the extra distance and extra time to KATH with Adam’s lifeless body our son would have surely died. I believe he was probably only a minute or so from not being able to return to life. If the clutch had exploded any earlier our son would be dead. If two very alert and professional infantrymen had hesitated or not been there our son would be dead. If Capt. DAY Abagre and his team hadn’t been immediately available and superbly trained and skilled our son’s hopes and dreams and life would have ended abruptly at Uaddara Barracks! Miracles do happen!
Our son was very unwell for the next few hours but by about ten hours hence he was speaking almost normally. He said he knew he had been dying in the car and then all blacked out until he regained consciousness with the medical staff pouring over him at 4 Medical Reception Station. Later Adam noted, when he first looked at the treatment room ceiling it sure was not heaven that he had arrived at but certainly the next best thing. For at least two weeks hence he was hugely sore with considerable aches and pains, he remarked “I thought dying was a once in a lifetime experience”. He went back to his studies a week or so later with some short term memory loss but this apparently is not unusual in the circumstances and is only temporary.
Approximately two weeks prior to Adam’s surprise awakening at 4 Medical Reception Station he had a similar experience when we rushed him to KATH but this time not so close to death. The medical staff there were also absolutely excellent in their professionalism, skills, care and attention of our son. Several years ago it was another similar situation when we rushed him to the Holy Family Hospital. Medical staff there did their work superbly also and saved our son’s life!
Adam suspected it, an internet search clarified it, and putting the facts together it is obvious that Adam is extremely allergic to the Malaria parasite. In every life threatening asthma attack he has had in Ghana it has always been preceded by Malaria. In Australia the cause for his near death experiences have been Influenza. Malaria has been eradicated in Australia. Please, those prone to Asthma be very careful if you find yourself with Malaria or Influenza.
Adam, my wife and I are enormously grateful and impressed with the dedication and skills of the medical staff at 4 Medical Reception Station 4 Infantry Battalion Uaddara Barracks, Kumasi and the Medical Staff at KATH in Kumasi and those at The Holy Family Hospital, Techiman. Our gratitude and sincere appreciation also goes out to the infantrymen who rushed out to carry Adam to safety. Their quick thinking, excellent training and strong arms saved our son’s life as did the quick action and skills of the medical staff at 4 Medical Reception Station. Indeed KATH, 4 Battalion and Holy Family have all played amazing parts in keeping Adam alive in Ghana. If they hadn’t done what they are trained to do our son would now be dead.
A HUGE THANK YOU FROM THE CUNNINGHAM FAMILY TO THE FANTASTIC MEDICAL STAFF AND 4 INFANTRY BATTALLION SOLDIERS OF GHANA, AND ALL THE OTHERS WHO PLAYED THEIR PART IN SAVING ADAM’S LIFE ON VARIOUS OCCASSIONS
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