Nigerian Doctor Narrates How He Saved a Man With Acute Asthmatic Attack from Death. He successfully gave first aid to someone with an asthmatic attack..

An Interesting read……

I’m not usually one to do this but I’ve seen a few tweets today which have subtly encouraged me to do more and therefore I believe that my story do the same for others.

Y’all would wonder what I mean by my heading, I’ll explain.

I’m a new surgical resident doctor, working in one of the teaching hospitals in Lagos. I’ve received various forms of advice, demeaning comments et. al with regard with me choosing to practice in Nigeria, despite having a masters from a foreign university. Story for another day!

I was headed home from work at about 8.30pm after being in theatre from 7am till just before leaving work. I was negotiating the bend off Ikorodu road, at Anthony; the Gbagada inlet road where Bertola Machines limited is located. This was the scene of this life-changing event…

As I took the bend into that short length of road, there was another car just exiting opposite me and then i could see the distinct lights of what appeared to be a truck coming slowly from the opposite end.

I also saw two men coming in the opposite direction to me, about one third the length of the road away from me. One man on each side of the road. The man on the opposite side of the road to me immediately caught my attention as I got into the road fully…

There are no streetlights on that road but the establishments have some lights that illuminate the road in patches. This young looking, averagely built, fair complexion guy appeared to be struggling to put something in his mouth or face while walking in a staggering gait…
I could not make out what he was doing but it was clear he was now desperate and in a lost battle. I had not yet built up speed, having just negotiated a sharp bend and the distraction from him further stopped me doing so. I was till trying to make sense of it when suddenly…
I noticed that he had staggered off the sidewalk and into the road while struggling with whatever it was. Before I could make any sense of it, this young guy collapsed to his knees and then slumped to the ground face up. He seemed to have given up. I was shaken to be honest…

In the last moment before he got to the ground full, I saw what appeared to be a small white puff of smoke coming out of his mouth and nose. The breeze quickly blew this away. It was till he fell to the ground and his hands fell to his sides that I understood what just happened!

As his hands fell to his sides, 2 small plastic containers rolled off from his hands and into the middle of the road. This containers had the distinct shape and colour of Salbutamol Inhalers (Ventolin) used by asthmatic patients. The picture became clearer immediately…
He must have suffered an acute asthmatic attack and he was too shaken to use his rescue inhaler or attack was too severe to be relieved by his inhalers. Whichever the case, I was faced with a clear medical emergency and I had to react.
The Nigerian and Lagosian me was triggered.
I was caught up in the dilemma of seeing an emergency that required my attention, however being afraid for my safety, due to the nature of that road and also my safety due to the ignorance of a majority of Nigerians. In a matter of split seconds, I had to choose a line of action.
Do I look the other way and save myself for self preservation from both hoodlums and ignorant people at the cost of a young man’s life?! If the attack did not kill him, the truck surely could have! Do I follow my medical instinct with the risk of exposing myself to danger?!
I don’t think my brain had processed so much information in so short a time while still trying to drive slowly and safely. Suddenly, one very distinct thought struck me… “Obinna, you would never be able to live with or forgive yourself if you leave this guy here and go home”.
Somehow i was so sure that I would come on twitter, instagram or so the next day, and see the story of his death and I’d forever live with the guilt. That was all i needed and immediately I veered off to the side of the road, parked and put on my hazard lights in one full swoop.
I immediately grabbed my stethoscope from behind me, jumped into the road and started waving at the oncoming trailer to direct him away from the young man lying on the road. Thankfully he saw me and complied in just about the right time. I got to the man’s side to have a look…
He was clearly in severe respiratory distress, gasping and I could hear him wheezing so loudly without need for my stethoscope. He was conscious but delirious and largely unresponsive. I grabbed his inhalers while tugging at his shirt to loosen his buttons and then belt buckle.
See eh, all these una fitted dressings na wahala!!!
Back to the matter; the man on the other side of the road was attracted by the commotion and then started to approach us. He said he saw the man slump but was too scared to react. Only came close when he saw my stethoscope.

Out of the nearby offices a couple of other guys came out and after asking what happened, started to help. We moved him to the side of the road and after a quick examination, I placed him in a position to keep his airway maximally patent. I made sure I was the one leading and closest in proximity to him with other giving him breathing space and also to protect his belongings. After over 5mins, slowly and to my relief, his respiration started to settle and become more coordinated and he started to respond to me.

I helped him to a few puffs of his…inhaler intermittently and he was able to coordinate his inhalation of the aerosol. I was repeatedly listening to his lungs and the wheezing started to reduce. Eventually, he recovered enough to sit up and could now answer questions briefly. He told me his name and asked mine…I asked how he got here and how we could get through to his relatives. That was when I got my first heartbreak. He was on his way back from work with his last funds when he started to have the attack. He stopped somewhere and pawned (sold) his phone to buy a new Ventolin inhaler.
He had exhausted the last one and was hoping to hold on till his next salary to buy a new one. He however had to get this new one when the attack was do severe in the bus. Having bought the new inhaler and with very limited funds to spare he decided to walk the distance to where – He would enter the last major bus that would get him a reasonable distance close to his house. It was during this trek that he had this severe, disabling attack. He was heading to Ijesha. It was a shocking story.
Fortunately for us, he was able to recall his sister’s number…We called her and she told us she was based in Mile 2 and it would be unsafe to come out that late. It was already 9.30pm. We were now faced with the dilemma of getting him to a hospital for more comprehensive care before he would go home.
To cut this thread short, we settled for Randle General hospital which was his usual hospital and close to his house and some relatives/friends. We unanimously agreed that using a Uber car would be the safest way to get him there.
While I had been interviewing him…my fellow wonderful Nigerian guys who after agreeing we should use Uber to get him to a hospital safely had already contributed some money. I was instructed to call the Uber and 2 individuals gave him their numbers for further help after that day. We waited for the taxi to arrive.
When the@UberNigeria driver arrived, he was obviously taken aback by what he met. 15-20 guys standing around a young man who was sitting on the side of the road. I quickly explained to the Uber guy who agreed after expressing his fears and collecting my number for back up…
Before the man got into the car, a handful on Nigerian naira notes were stuffed into his hand. I did not get to count, but the least note I sighted was 200 naira. There were multiple 1000naira notes, including mine. I told him the driver had my number, he expressed his gratitude

He got into the taxi and was taken away. We all looked at ourselves, thanked ourselves, lamented as the Nigerians we are and eventually dispersed. I must confess, I received a lot of accolades as most of them said my quick response and coordination of the situation was what encouraged them to even come close and render help(perhaps they do not know the symptoms of an asthmatic attack). They would otherwise have been scared for same reasons I earlier tried to highlight. I headed home. Not more than 10mins after i got home, I got a call from the @UberNigeria driver to tell me he was safe at the hospital…

The driver also went out of his way to call his sister to let her know his current whereabouts. I was really shocked by his efforts as with that of everyone else. It made me wonder how great we would be if things were put alright. In all we were told that served a purpose.

I called his sister yesterday who confirmed to me that he was treated and discharged the next day with medications and he is safe and recuperating with family. She was grateful and extended greetings from her brother and other relatives. It had come full circle thankfully.

I could go on and on about how none of those individuals clamour for recognition and so on. We worked so open heartedly that none of us took the other person’s number. We just dispersed happily without any thought other than concern for the man in question.

Read Also: First aid for epilepsy (seizure disorder)

I could also go on and on about failures of the system that got the guy and us to that point but that would be for y’all to ponder. One thing struck me though, not one person mentioned emergency ambulance services.

We were so sure they would not come or be too late.

In all, I thank God for His leading through my conscience.

I recommendation is that athmatic patients should wear the asthmatic bracelets. Persons prone to asthmatic attack must always carry their inhalers. The outcome might an been different without am inhaler.


Asthmatic attack
The hero doctor that saved a patient asthmatic attack on the roadside

My name is @drudechuckwu


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