This chapter is dedicated to the late Jimoh Isiaq and every SARS/police brutality victim. Our prayers are with your family and friends.
"PLEASE HELP!! SOMEBODY, PLEASE HELP!! PLEASE!!"
A man shouted at the top of his lungs as he carried a bleeding young man with the help of two other men into the emergency unit. They were all smeared with the blood of the injured young man.
I rushed over to the group along with two nurses and another resident doctor. One of the nurses wheeled a stretcher to the group and the injured man was gently placed on it.
The man had a GSW (Gunshot Wound) to the back, just below his rib cage and was bleeding profusely. It was obvious that the bullet had hit a couple of internal organs. He was fading in and out of consciousness as we wheeled him straight into the OR (Operating Room).
The resident doctor had his hands placed on the wound, applying pressure in order to stop further bleeding. It was a penetrating gunshot wound which meant that there was an entry but no exit of the bullet.
This was not the first gunshot case we had received this week and even the one before. It all started with the whole #ENDSARS and #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY protest that was going on.
The Nigerian people most especially youths took to the street, carrying placards and banners with notion #ENDSARS written on it last week. The SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) as its name implied was an organization formed by the government to protect the Nigerian citizens from armed robbers and internet fraudsters.
It turned out that instead of the SARS organization to protect Nigerians, they began antagonizing them and turning into a real menace. They went after Nigerian youths in possession of certain assets like iPhones, laptops, expensive cars. They harassed young boys who spotted the dread hairstyles, wore fancy pieces of jewellery and dressed expensively.
Once you were stopped in your car or on the streets, they would ask to go through your phone claiming that they were looking for internet criminal activities on it and when they turn up empty, they would harass you for bribes. Inability to provide such outrageous bribes led to the ill-treatment and even death of the youths.
Nigerian youths became afraid of carrying their gadgets, wearing chains and eye-catching wristwatches or even driving their cars out because of the fear of being stopped by the SARS official.
The whole issue became such a pressing matter that Nigerian youths couldn't sit back anymore and so they took to the streets protesting. To dissuade such protests, police officers sent tear gases flying into the crowd and even fired bullets blindly at protesters.
We had a young woman rushed into the hospital yesterday, she had been shot in the face, around her mouth region. She is currently in need of facial reconstruction as half of her lower facial region was blown apart.
Her family weren't able to afford the procedure, so we just performed surgery to keep her in a stable condition. Doctors were working tirelessly in finding a charitable organization where we could dip into to get funds for her facial reconstruction procedure.
We finally arrived at the OR and a surgical team that consisted of a circulating nurse, two scrub nurses, an anesthesiologist and an assisting surgeon were already waiting. As they prepped the man for surgery, I washed up my hands thoroughly as the operating surgeon, in order to be sterile enough for the surgery.
An ultrasound was carried out to find out where exactly the bullet was located in and what organs had been compromised. Although, an exploratory laparotomy was going to be conducted. (An extensive checking of the bowel to make sure there aren't any injuries).
The young man had already lost a lot of blood since no form of first aid treatment was giving to him at the early stage of the injury and that meant we needed to work fast. By first aid treatment, I meant applying pressure to the gunshot wound with a clean cloth to reduce bleeding out.
Samples of his blood had already been taken to our blood bank in order to find a suitable donor and get the blood pumping back into his body.
"Clearing laps," I said as removed the soaked laparotomy pads from the site of operation. (Laparotomy pads are used to control bleeding, put pressure and clear the site when blood is in the area)
Three hours later and the surgery was over. We were able to get the bullet out; a steel-cased 7.62×39mm FMJ cartridge with no complications whatsoever.
As I stepped out of the OR, I was met with two police officers. I wasn't surprised by their presence because it was customary that the police force to be alerted two hours after commencing treatment on a gunshot victim.
The Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshot act was enacted in 2017 as a result of the large cases of deaths recorded in gunshot cases. Private hospitals were said to turn away gunshot victims without a police report away because of the fear of being implicated if such victim was involved in a criminal act.
In order to prevent their private establishments from being closed down for investigation by the police, doctors would refer these victims to general hospitals where the doctors would be defended if the victims turn up to be a product of criminal activity.
Although this law stood as protection for small private hospitals or clinics, most were still hesitant in administering treatments without police reports. This was because the enactment of such laws didn't come with a thorough implementation and the police force did whatever they wanted.
It was a good thing that our hospital was one that was known worldwide and had a large number of foreign investors to be shut down by the Nigerian Police. In fact, my mother had been given an honorary award by the minister of health for turning around the health sector of Nigeria single-handedly.
"Good evening, officers" I said as I approached them
They responded with a nod.
"A young man was reported with a gunshot wound," One of them said
"Yes. He has just undergone surgery and is being transported to the recovery ward. He's still under heavy sedation so you'll have to take your statement tomorrow" I said firmly.
They nodded hesitantly.
"An officer would be placed outside his room" one said curtly.
"Why? It's not like he's going to run away between now and tomorrow, besides he was a peaceful protester that was shot" I said with furrowed eyebrows.
"We are just following protocols, doctor," the other police officer said gently.
I nodded. "A nurse will be here to inform you of his ward information"
"Thank you," the reasonable one said while the other one spotted a rigid facial expression.
I gave them a slight head nod before heading to the waiting room to find the young man's family members and give them the news.
This chapter was an unprecedented one as I never planned to write it. I had to lend my voice to the #ENDSARS and #ENDPOLICEBRUTALITY movements that have been going on in Nigeria for the past few days. It saddens me to even write this because this is a small imitation of what is going on in Nigeria right now.
RIP Jimoh Isiaq
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