On July 21, 2014, I was in Calabar, peacefully engaged in the compulsory service to Nigeria. Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres away, a certain woman saved me from getting infected with a deadly virus with a fatality rate of about 90%. In the year 30 AD, it is believed in Christianity that a man gave himself way to be killed so that many others, even those unborn, might be saved. The man’s name was Jesus Christ. In 2014, many centuries later in Nigeria, this doctor, with the knowledge of a possible infection and death, saved a nation from an epidemic called ebola. Her name was Stella Adadevoh. This viral outbreak had turned Liberia and Sierra Leone to pariah countries. Although, it is probable for this selfless act to get lost in the political wrangling between the state government and the federal government on who takes the credit for the eradication of ebola (who could blame them though it was an election season), but some of us choose to remember Dr Adadevoh’s as the singular person who even made the glory to be sought available in the first place.
Under pressure from an international government to release the patient zero, Patrick Sawyer, from the hospital, she stood her ground to save her countrymen and the most populous black nation on earth. Her great grandfather Herbert Macaulay had fought for Nigeria’s independence more than 50 years earlier. A country like ours would have been the most perfect breeding ground for the virus to fester. We come in contact with bodily fluids at every turn- the headrest on the danfo, the alabaru at Oyingbo brushing you with his sweaty arm, the ablution area in most mosques. The devastation would have been deadlier than Liberia’s. The health sector which had collapsed would never have been prepared. The strike embarked by doctors then proved to be a blessing in disguise as it ensured that Sawyer was not taken to the government hospitals which are always crowded, thus, risking more people getting infected. This makes Adadevoh’s act more prominent and heroic. Not a virologist herself, she could have run to save her life when Sawyer chose to deliberately infect others by spilling his blood and other body fluids in his room. But she chose to stay to restrain the patient- a decision which proved fatal. On August 19, 2014, she fell to the deadly virus.
Finally, in a society that fails to reward valiant actions, it is noteworthy to remember Dr Adadevoh on this anniversary of her death. Ma’am, thank you for saving us from an impending doom. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten in this corner.
Not all heroes wear capes; some are in lab coats.