How does one react to the death of a woman one didn’t know…if that woman was a true representative of what humanity should be? If she was compassionate, selfless; an unsung heroine of our age with a brave heart, a woman who gave the ultimate sacrifice of her life in order to save others… how does one react to her death?

Dr. Stella AdadevohDr. Stella Adadevoh Rapidly, my mind scurried to the inner chamber that holds all thought, emotion, distress, sorrow and grief. …Maybe by celebrating, in quiet solemnity, her life or perhaps by thanking her for what she died to prevent.

Apparently, the price of wellbeing and peace is not free, but is a precious commodity paid for a million times over by the heroic people who, in spite of their own risks, serve for the benefit of all humanity. Dr. Adadevoh, a senior Consultant and Physician at the First Consultant Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria was one of such heroes.  In Nigeria today, we are able to be relatively free from an Ebola pandemic because of her; because of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh; a woman who was all too willing to put her life in danger in order to stop the spread of the dreaded disease.

Most of us first heard of her when a Liberian man carrying the Ebola virus treacherously sauntered into Nigeria and infected the doctor and the team who cared for him. We later came upon her story again when her colleague, Dr. Ladi Okubadejo made a public appeal for the American government to make available the experimental mystery serum (Zmapp) in order to save her life, after it was learnt that the medication had positive effects on curing two infected Americans, Dr Kent Brantly and Mrs. Nancy Writebol. By the time Dr. Okubadejo made his desperate plea, the infected Liberian man, Mr. Patrick Sawyer, had already died and had tragically passed the virus onto, at least, 14 other people (four of which have died while five have been successfully managed and discharged).

Initially when Mr. Sawyer was admitted into hospital, he falsely denied having contact with any Ebola patient, despite the fact that his sister had died from Ebola at the time he had been with her. His final days and actions were a chronicle of very bad choices gone terribly wrong and in which his cruel and grave error in judgment had tragic repercussions. Whether out of fear, denial or desperation (as some accounts suggest) of finding a cure for Ebola from a spiritual and religious source in Nigeria, Mr. Sawyer made the fatal decision to lie about his condition. It was a lie, which invariably cost him his life. It was a lie that callously imposed an immediate death sentence on the group of people who were so desperate to care for and save his life.

Had it not been for the professional effort of Dr. Adadevoh to isolate Mr. Sawyer, the minute she suspected he was infected with the Ebola virus, we would have very likely been in the midst of a full-blown pandemic. It has been reported that immediately upon placing Mr. Sawyer under quarantine, Dr. Adadevoh made the necessary contact to the Ministry of Health. She then went ahead to order the required laboratory testing to be carried out and gallantly preceded to resist immense pressure to discharge Mr. Sawyer. And in a final act of altruism, after Dr. Adadevoh had been infected, she preserved herself in a manner that minimized the danger posed to those who came into contact with her. An act that perhaps a self-serving coward like Mr. Sawyer could never appreciate.

One can only imagine the anxiety she must have gone through knowing the potency of such an infectious disease and realizing that she had been exposed to it, but that didn’t stop Dr. Adadevoh from doing what she knew she needed to do. With stories of doctors in other locations and countries rejecting suspected Ebola cases and health workers running away; in the midst of global fear of such a threatening disease, the fortune of millions lay in the hands of one lady. It lay in the hands of Dr. Adadevoh and the actins and choices she was forced to make. The choice that she made to contain Mr. Sawyer and save millions demanded the ultimate price. We will never be able to repay her sacrifice, but we can endeavor to learn from her courage. For surely it is by the courage and sense of service that she displayed, that we are able to enjoy a life devoid of a full-blown epidemic.

For her commitment, Dr. Adadevoh paid with her life. Now we are left with the memory of her courageous sacrifice. A noble, privileged woman, who lived a simple life and dedicated herself to do right by her calling. Just those few images of her in newspapers, on TV and online leave us with a great memory of a woman so many of us didn’t know but are just so very grateful for

Remembering Dr. Adadevoh and her fallen colleagues should not be a passing commitment, it is not a popular undertaking or a transient fad to be written in articles, blogs and posted on social media pages; rather, it is a moral requirement of the highest magnitude for each and every one of us. Dr. Adadevoh deserves the praise, gratitude and respect of every single person in Nigeria and beyond. She deserves to be celebrated as the one who stood her ground to intervene in the foreseeable catastrophe that would have been caused by the desperate, yet reprehensible and severe moral failing of a very ill and selfish man.

An American president once said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.” Now as the whole country acknowledges the sacrifice of this great lady, there seems to be a general consensus that it is not just enough to recognize her efforts fleetingly and ‘in-the-moment.’ Let us be thankful and honor her courage and memory and the memory of all those who sacrificed in the way she did by never treating their sacrifice casually. Every country worth its grain in salt has a way of recognizing the remarkable contributions of its citizens that have distinguished themselves in their services to the benefit and progress of the nation. Surely, in Nigeria, as a Nigerian, none could have given more than what this beautiful and brilliant yet simple woman gave!

I lend my voice to the overwhelming call for Dr. Adadevoh to be conferred with a posthumous national award of the highest rank, in addition to naming either a medical research or institution for infectious diseases in her memory.

Hundreds of words have been spoken about her and the professional, selfless service she gave to her family, patients and community. And from all indication, in life, her dignity, compassion, and proficiency, seem to be only a few of her characteristics that lead to the respect and adoration of her associates, colleagues, patients, family and friends. The bravery, selflessness and humanity of this one woman was extraordinary. She personified passion and gave so much unconditionally. Now in death, she has distinguished herself as our very own hero, never to be forgotten.

For those who were lucky to have known her in her lifetime and those of us who have come to know of her by virtue of her death, the heroic action of Dr. Adadevoh anthropomorphizes a singular message; it´s a lesson for us all. It is one, which declares, that no matter our status in life, despite our calling, each and every one of us has the power to make a difference; has the power to save lives and by extension make the world a better place. Each and every minute of each and every day, someone, somewhere in the world is making a singular choice with the capacity to change or even save the whole world. We read and hear about it all the time.

If one can make a change in something they have control of for the better, no matter how small, it may have a flow on effect somewhere else in the world. That is the choice that Dr. Adadevoh made when she refused to cave into pressure to discharge a very sick Patrick Sawyer from the hospital and went further to constrain him to his bed, not because she wanted any award or money, she did it in order to try and save Mr. Sawyer’s life and save others from a potential epidemic of Ebola.

She not only saved Nigeria from inevitable calamity, she potentially saved many countries from the spread of a global pandemic. The virtue and benefit of her actions cannot be overstated. Lets carry forward her message that we each have the power to change and save the world.

Dr. Adadevoh was a true heroine and inspiration. As we remember her and all our other brothers and sisters, who have fallen to this disease, it is my sincere hope that we keep their memory alive within our hearts. We must also keep the ones that they left behind in our daily thoughts and prayers.

Her family and friends, while terribly heartbroken, should take pride in what she did, and must know that people who make the kind of sacrifice she did inspire the world. Great appreciation goes to her parents who invariably instilled the highest moral standards in Dr. Adadevoh. I pray that her mother can find peace in knowing she birthed an extraordinarily brave woman that strived to save so many. I hope her son can find solace in the fact that his mother’s legacy of courage, determination, selflessness, professionalism, integrity and compassion will live on and that her sacrifice will never be in vain.

If Nigeria were filled with men and women that had the strength of character, the dedication, the compassion of Dr. Adadevoh, malevolence and dishonesty would not find a heart to inhabit. Each of us knows that our community and our country face difficult challenges. Let us each draw inspiration and strength from the sacrifice of a woman such as Dr. Adadevoh in order to make this country better.

We are all lessened by her passing but, at the same time, are elevated by her actions and example. May her memory prove to be a blessing. Dr. Adadevoh gives me a reason for hope that people like her who have an unshaken belief in humanity and who put a high value on the life of others still exist within us. I join Nigerians in mourning her, Justina Obi Ejelonu, Jatto Asihu Abdulqudir, Miguel Pajares, (especially) Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, and all their other fallen colleagues. I further join Nigerians in praying for the speedy recovery of all the other victims who had different levels of contact with Mr. Patrick Sawyer and every other victim of Ebola wherever they may be.

How does one mourn for a woman one didn’t know… if that woman was a true representative of what humanity should be? …By making sure she is sufficiently honored, by taking forth her message of hope and by doing one’s part to preserve her memory.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh left behind. May you all find peace in the face of such a great loss!

Written By Hannatu Musawa.

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