13 October 2012

Nigeria: Maiduguri Boy Struggles With Bullet in Skull

Maiduguri — More than a month after he was hit by a stray bullet, 15-month-old Shuaibu Mahmud is struggling to survive with the projectile in his skull.

They all thought what hits little Shuiabu Mahmud, a 15 month-old baby on the last Eid el-fitr day in Maiduguri, Borno State was a stone, until doctors discovered that it was a stray bullet. The entire family woke on the day of the incident in celebration mood not knowing that tragedy was imminent. Little Mahmud was playing with other children at their home in the Federal Lowcost Housing estate within the state capital when he suddenly fell down and blood gushing from his head.

Unlike many others who had gone in the same manner, little Shuaibu was lucky as he will have a story to tell whenever he grows up on the insecurity problem in Maiduguri occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed many lives.

Before this, the family was in high spirit after 30 days of fasting as they all went for the Eid prayer including little Shuaibu. The celebration mood in the family was, however, cut short in the afternoon when the incident happened. They received the shock of their lives when the doctors disclosed to them after an x-ray that what hits Shuaibu was not a stone, but a bullet. Then the struggle to have the bullet removed started. The efforts took them to the Usman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, in far away Sokoto State. However, 54 days after the incident, doctors are still trying to remove it.

The father of the boy told Weekly Trust how it all happened. "He was playing with other children in my in-laws' house at Federal Lowcost Housing Estate in Maiduguri on sallah day when suddenly he fell down and blood started coming out from his head. Initially, we never knew it was a bullet that hit him, until he was taken to the hospital. An x-ray was performed on him and a bullet was discovered.

He continued: "We first took him to Alkomi Clinic from where we were referred to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. The doctor ordered for an x-ray to be done on him, and when the result came out, it shows that he is carrying bullet in his head. The doctor was shocked and ordered for another x-ray which revealed the same thing. Then we were later referred to experts at the Usman Dan Fodio University whom we were told can remove the bullet remove they said is in a delicate area.

"Before the x-ray, my son was unconscious for two days and I started complaining that which type of stone will hit him to make him be unconscious like this. Then we took him from one hospital to another before it was discovered that it was a bullet.

The family's worry became compounded when doctors at the Usman Dan Fodio University where he was referred to inform them that the bullet cannot be removed now, because it penetrated through his skull, as doing so now would damage his brain and eyes,

"We were told to bring him back in December."

Mahmud lamented that his son is not as agile as before, fearing that the bullet might affect his child's brain in future.

"Now my son can no longer play like other children; am afraid it may affect his brain. I just pray doctors will quickly find a solution and have the bullet removed. My son has really gone through a lot of stress. Every night he will not sleep and he will be crying," he lamented.

"Though he is better now compared to when the incident happened but now he can no longer stand on his own without support. I am afraid that the bullet might affect his brain," he stressed.

Mahmud appealed to the state government to assist financially, saying they had spent much to remove the bullet.

"We have really spent a lot of money and energy to have the bullet removed; there was a time when we were asked to carry out another x-ray, then the machine in Sokoto was not working and we had to travel to Kano to have it done.

As things stand, the family's hope and prayers are that Allah in His infinite mercy through the doctors at the Usman Dan Fodio University should remove the bullet successfully so that little Shuaibu can return to play with his mates again and subsequently live a normal life.

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