A significantly successful online effort to raise funds for Mayowa Ahmed, a terribly sick and emaciated woman, has been mired in controversy after a popular online gossip blog, Linda Ikeji’s Blog posted that the SaveMayowa campaign was a scam.
However, an investigation by correspondents of SaharaReporters found that Ms. Mayowa Shukurat Ahmed, a 28-year old graduate of the University of Lagos, is truly sick and currently on admission at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Our reporters found that the patient was on Monday, July 25, 2016, taken to the private wing of LUTH’s ward where she was expected to start receiving treatment for abdominal malignancy.
A statement from LUTH disclosed that Ms. Ahmed had been to other medical labs where she was diagnosed with “intra-abdominal mass,” adding that she had been a patient at LUTH for other health conditions. A medical report revealed that Ms. Ahmed is also a sickle cell patient.
SaharaReporters learned, however, that her family apparently took her to LUTH, not for treatment of her ovarian cancer but so the hospital could stabilize her health enough to enable her to travel abroad. LUTH officials said they informed the patient’s family that she was not fit for any travel, but the family insisted that all they wanted was that the hospital should boost her health to the point where she would be able to travel.
In their statement, LUTH disclosed that the patient’s family “requested to fly Miss Ahmed outside the country barely 24 hours after her admission in LUTH, thus stalling all the planned investigations meant to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. We were able to transfuse her with much-needed blood only after lots of persuasions where the family was told point blank that it was risky for her to travel by air, given her low blood count.”
Earlier this week, a video featuring the patient and a Nollywood actress, Toyin Aimakhu, was uploaded on social media to solicit funds on behalf of sick Mayowa. However, things went sour when the actress, who is also the founder of Lifestake Foundation, declared that the campaign might have been a scam. Ms. Aimakhu said she suspected something fishy when the family of Ms. Ahmed would not allow her to see the patient. She also said a doctor at LUTH, after seeing the patient’s medical report, said the report was fake.
Aramide Kasumu of Lifestake Foundation also said she discovered too late that the family did not have an invitation from any hospital abroad and that Ms. Ahmed’s medical condition had passed the stage that any medical care could salvage. She too concluded that the family must have set out to scam Nigerians.
Our correspondents could not reach Ms. Aimakhu to confirm which medical report she showed to the LUTH doctor. However, the medical report detailing Ms. Ahmed’s health condition was reportedly issued by Reddington Hospital in Ikeja and a doctor at LUTH could not have confirmed its authenticity.
A consultant at LUTH, who preferred not to be named, said the patient’s case was not totally hopeless. He told SaharaReporters that there might be hope for Ms. Ahmed if she could afford treatment at better-equipped hospitals in some foreign countries. “The truth is, her case is very critical. I would even say it is beyond 50-50, but with better healthcare facilities, she could scale through.” He added that certain medical conditions “are beyond what Nigerian hospitals can treat properly.”
He and other LUTH officials said they never issued any medical report to Ms. Ahmed as the hospital, at the time of writing this report, had not carried out any medical investigation of the patient to ascertain the severity of her condition.
In the heat of the accusations, Ms. Aimakhu denied calling Linda Ikeji to report on the case. Our investigation, however, revealed that it was the actress who called Ms. Ikeji. A text message, which our correspondent got from the office of the police public relations office, also indicated that the actress brought in the police.
A LUTH official, who spoke in his personal capacity, said he was “disappointed at the lady’s (Aimakhu) behavior. I did not even know she was an actress. She was just making a lot of noise, shouting. She called Linda Ikeji, and while we were still trying to understand what was going on, she was already talking to some people and the police,” said the source. He added: “One of our senior consultants wanted to speak with her, but I had to tell him not to talk to her because she might disrespect him and that might lead to LUTH’s security getting angry. So I told him we would resolve it.”
SaharaReporters emailed Emory International Hospital, which reportedly provided Ms. Ahmed’s family with an estimate for her treatment cost. The hospital directed our correspondent to its Media Relations Department, but the department could not be reached via the number given. Ms. Ahmed’s family has said they now plan to fly her to Abu Dhabi instead, but they never mentioned any hospital.
The Lagos state police command said they were looking into the whole controversy. Its spokesman, Dolapo Badmos, said, “The Command wishes to inform all the good spirited people who had donated generously to this cause that it will ensure it [is] not a hoax,” said the police, adding that the outcome of the investigation “shall be made public.”
Ms. Ahmed’s family members have forcefully denied the scam allegation, insisting that the patient was truly sick and needed to be flown out of the country to receive medical treatment. On social media, those sympathetic to the family have rebuked those accusing them of seeking to defraud unsuspecting Nigerians. They have also accused blogger Ms. Linda Ikeji of engaging in click-baiting.