Hit by a truck 10 years ago in Lagos, Pat Utomi, a newspaper vendor from Akwa Ibom State, has not found life easy, more so when the accident damaged his private parts.
Seeing Patrick Tommy Utomi in a robe sells a dummy that all is well with this young man who walks around freely without showing any sign of bodily defect, but he has been living in agony in the last 10 years.
The woe of Utomi, a Lagos-based newspaper vendor started on September 7, 2002, a day he was marking his birthday. He left home in high spirits to collect his supply of national dailies and magazines but hardly had he settled down to business at his station when the unexpected happened.
The driver of an articulated trailer lost control along Oshodi-Apapa expressway, and in the process rammed the vehicle into Utomi. That marked the beginning of his journey to a new world, as his urethral system was damaged leaving him with multiple fractures.
“I was rushed to the General Hospital, Marina, after the incident by good Samaritans. In fact, I was in coma for eight days before I woke up. It was then I knew that I was starting a new life entirely. I stayed back at Marina Hospital for eight months under critical condition. My fiancee later abandoned me as she could not cope any longer because of my predicament. In fact, that was the year we had wanted to formalize our relationship after I lost my dad in 2001. I can’t blame the young woman, she did her best and she never in any way offended me,” Utomi remarked.
All the while, the fair-skinned man has been battling with the problem of not urinating through the normal system.
“I was referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, and on getting there, I underwent three major surgeries within a week.
At LUTH, artificial opening was created in my stomach to enable me to urinate through a colostomy bag, but along the line, my rectum was said to have been injured, and so another opening had to be made for me to excrete through the stomach as well,” he lamented.
Since then, this 35-year-old man has been moving around in a robe in search of N6 million to regain his manhood and of course live a normal life.
“I used to be extra careful, especially while I’m inside a public vehicle because I’m not mobile. I don’t rush when I want to board a vehicle and when I want to alight from the bus or cab because this might spell doom for me. I have not been able to put on pants or trousers since this accident occurred. Except at home, I always go out in a robe to cover all these (showing the gadgets fixed to his body) and I change the colostomy bag daily with N1, 500. I cannot eat what I like because of my condition. I take pap, tea and water mostly and at times rice in small quantity, but I believe all these would become history someday with God on my side and I want to live to tell the story,” he declared.
Utomi, who claimed to be a member of Akwa Ibom State Committee (Akiscom), Lagos, stressed that raising N6 million for the two surgical operations in India was in the hands of God and well-meaning Nigerians.
“Somebody promised to foot the bill last year, but it did not materialize though I believe that God Almighty will see me through and spirited Nigerians will not let me die in this condition. I was out of business for over two years before I returned after I attained some level of improvement in terms of fitness. I have been referred to Kulkani Endosurgery Institute and Reconstructive Urology Centre, Pure, India, for two major surgical operations for the reconstruction of urethra (Urethroplasty) and reversal of colostomy (Closure of Colostomy) which will cost me N6 million.
“My brother, the donation I have received so far was N1, 000 which was deposited in my account by a Good Samaritan. I left the money in the bank for so long before I withdrew it and took it to my church as offering. I attend The Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG/IBCF, Apapa Parish, Area 19, Province 5.
“I looked at the situation and concluded that since N1, 000 is not what I need, I should give it out in appreciation of divine favour that has kept me alive.
“My Area Pastor has been very supportive as well as members of my church. They have been supporting me with money for upkeep and materials as well. I have been staying with a friend since December 2012 when I left my former apartment. I still go to work every day to sell newspapers and take supply to my customers but it is not easy at all,” Utomi lamented.
Dr KH Tijani, a consultant urologist at LUTH, in a letter dated March 25, 2009, confirmed the predicament of Utomi.
“He was initially treated with suprapubic cystostomy and skin grafting before being referred to us. The patient had a urethroplasty on March 16, 2004, unfortunately, rectal injury was noticed during the procedure. An attempt was made to repair it. On March 17, 2004, an exploratory laparotomy and sigmoid colostomy was performed when there were doubts concerning the state of the rectal injury. He had a refashioning of the colostomy on May 20, 2004, due to non-function of the colostomy,” Tijani had said in the letter.
The medical expert affirmed that “Utomi can only pass urine and faeces through the artificial openings in his abdomen, and he will, however, require at least two major surgeries: closure of colostomy and urethroplasty, as early as possible so as to establish normal faecal and urinary flow, in order to prevent the long term complications of these artificial openings”.
Utomi is, however, optimistic that heavens would intervene in his appeal for financial assistance, even if the two different letters he had written to his state governor, Godswill Akpabio, had gone unanswered. The copies of the letters made available showed that the first was written on August 25, 2012 and the reminder, on October 16, 2012.