Victor Ogbonna, age 15, was on his way to a doctor’s appointment at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, Nigeria in May 2108. He was carrying his scans to be delivered to his neurologist as he is one of thousands of indigent children in charge of his own healthcare. He was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, brain cancer and needed surgery following by radiation therapy.
Economics was his biggest hurdle to receiving treatment. He struggled managing the cost of surgery and transporting himself to treatment as he lived hours from the hospital. To raise the money for his surgery, Victor entered a local educational contest and was awarded several hundred dollars by a wealthy man in his village. Victor opted to use his winnings toward his surgery as it was is only chance for treatment. After he finally had his first surgery, he was stuck in the hospital for almost five months because he couldn’t afford to pay his hospital bill. The VOOM Foundation medical staff all pitched in and covered his bill, so he could go home and be with his family.
Shortly after his release he had many seizures and the cost of his drugs were enormous to him and his family, as they sacrificed most of their family saving towards his care. Victor was in need of a second surgery. After a month or two, he set out to raise the funds, recruit his blood own blood donors and travelling to multiple hospitals searching for rare products needed for his surgery, Victor was ready. His second surgery was successful and was to be followed by a six-week radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy came with its own challenges. The cost of therapy was already a burden and finding food and housing near the hospital was impossible and unaffordable. Eventually, he tenaciously found support. Shortly after his first week of radiation, the hospital radiation machine broke down. He was told the nearest place to receive treatment was 5-6 hours away. Low on funds he opted to wait until the machine was fixed. Months later the machine was working again, and he finished his therapy. It took him months to complete a six-week therapy.
After Victor returned home, his seizures continued. Eventually, he began to feel better and notified the VOOM Foundation staff that he was cured. Feeling normal again, Victor wished to re-entered school that fall but he could not afford the $70 tuition, as his funds were exhausted due to his healthcare. Eventually, a dear friend loaned him the money and he happily returned to school full of hope and excitement.
Within month’s Victor fell ill again and eventually passed away, succumbing to his disease.
Everything pertaining to his care was and his life was a struggle. His mother and his family did everything they could to support his care, but he struggled every step of the way. This is not just a story about Victor but a story of thousands of indigent kids in Nigeria that are suffering the same. Victor wanted to go to school and become a doctor but reaching his potential became an arduous task as he was born in a country where the poor struggle with healthcare, education and everyday needs.
VOOM Foundation’s mission is to provide impartial sustainable healthcare programs dedicated to quality, with a particular interest in supporting the underprivileged and underserved.
Rest in Peace, Victor Ogbonna!
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