Nigerian athletes go gaga over Indian medical services

By Azera Rahman, IANS,

Gurgaon: Nigerian athletes Helen Okus and Amas Daniel are going home with much more than just memories of the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG). Both had to undergo surgery in a hospital here and can’t stop thanking the doctors for the “excellent” medical services.

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Okus, 21, who represented her country in the 72 kg wrestling competition in the Games, won a bronze. Her stint was, however, a painful one as she was suffering from a condition called prolapsed intervertebral disc. In this condition, the spongy part of a disc that lies between two adjacent vertebrae in the spine comes out and presses on the nerve.

“I was diagnosed with this condition at the national training camp in Nigeria before I came to participate in the Games here. The condition was not so severe then. My pain was treated through massages and prescribed painkillers,” Okus told IANS.

“However, my condition worsened after the match and I was in so much pain that I could not even lift my arm. I was told by our team of doctors and coach that if I wanted to continue with my game, I should undergo surgery and so I decided to go ahead with it before flying back home,” she said.

According to Arun Saroha, the neurosurgery consultant who operated upon Okus, her treatment involved removal and implant of artificial disc through microscopic spine surgery. “It is a highly specialised procedure and is carried out at selective spine centres in our country,” he said.

Daniel, also a wrestler, was suffering from hernia and was in so much pain that he had to wear a belt around his stomach while competing. His treatment involved minimally invasive surgery.

Both the athletes were admitted Oct 15 to the Artemis Health Institute, a multi-specialty hospital in Gurgaon on the outskirts of the Indian capital, right after the CWG concluded Oct 14. They underwent surgery the next day.

While Okus can resume her game after three months, 20-year-old Daniel can do so in two weeks. The two are now preparing to go home.

Okus said: “In Nigeria, they don’t have such tertiary care hospitals. I am happy with the facilities and the treatment. My condition has improved remarkably after the surgery and there is no pain.”

The cost of the athletes’ treatment was borne by the Nigerian sports ministry.

Talking about their experience in India, both the athletes, who are here on their maiden visit, said they loved being here.

Daniel said: “We loved it in India and if we get an opportunity we will come back again. I enjoyed Indian food, clothes and hospitality. In fact, we bought a lot of traditional Indian dresses and artefacts to take back as gifts.”

They were also all praise for the Games Village and the event itself. The CWG was held during Oct 3-14 and saw players from 71 participating teams.

“It was an amazing experience to meet so many players from different parts of the world. The Games Village was truly world-class,” he added.

Talking about her match, Okus said: “I feel elated that I was able to do my country proud on an international platform. All this became possible because of the support I received from my teammates and coach.”

According to an official at Artemis, on an average the hospital gets 50-80 African patients every month.

“A growing number of African nationals come to Indian hospitals like Artemis for orthopaedics treatment, IVF, neurological disorders, cancer and renal transplant,” the official said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at [email protected])