Indian surgeons help Nigerian woman back on her feet


New Delhi : In the dim light of a conference room, 65-year-old Margaret Eremionkhale stood in a corner with the help of crutches, closely watching her old videos where she stumbled every time she tried to stand.

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The Nigerian entrepreneur is now on the road to recovery after undergoing a three-part surgery, and will be able to walk without the support of crutches in three weeks.

Meet the ‘metallic lady’ who is now surviving on metallic hips, metallic knees and a metallic spine. Doctors at the capital’s Apollo Hospital operated upon the mother of ten a month ago, when the vital joints of her body refused to function properly.

“Since the year 2003, I suffered unbearable pain in knees and back. I was constantly dependent on people around for even walking a few steps,” Eremionkhale said.

“Life has improved by degrees. The pain, physical dependence, suffering — it’s all coming to and end,” she said, with one of her sons sitting alongside.

The mother-son duo flew to India in April after Eremionkhale’s daughter suggested that she go to Delhi for treatment.

For doctors, it was rare to see a woman undergo complete joint replacement and yet stand on her own feet in such a short time.

“Margaret’s weight was around 100 kgs. Her bones were soft, and she suffered from chronic rheumatoid arthritis. It was a challenge to go for three replacement surgeries despite so many problems,” said Yash Gulati, senior consultant, orthopaedics at Apollo Hopital.

“She is now living on a metallic spine implanted with eight screws. Apart from that, there is total knee replacement and hip replacement,” Gulati added.

The surgery cost the family around Rs.22 lakh ($47,800).

According to experts, she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a long-term disease which leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. The disease, largely targeting women above the age of 60, may also affect other organs over a period of time.

For Margaret, life will soon begin once she is back in her home town Abuja, where she lives with her grandchildren.

“Being a woman, I never lost hope. I just want to go ahead with the same optimism,” she said.