A medical expert, Professor Femi Williams, categorically said yesterday that President Muhammadu Buhari, was anaemic.
This, the certified physician in Anatomic Pathology from London and Ireland, told The Nation in an interview, could only have been responsible for the blood transfusion which the president got during his medical vacation in the United Kingdom.
Buhari admitted on his return home on Friday that he had transfusion in London.
“We now have a pretty good idea of diagnosis, which is now comprehensive or good enough to say that the diagnosis of President Buhari’s illness is anaemia,” Williams said.
“You cannot be transfused if you don’t have anaemia,” he explained.
He had, in a previous diagnosis based on the president’s photograph published in the newspapers, ruled out anaemia.
He also said that the anaemia could have been triggered by self –medication.
Buhari at a meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, members of the federal executive council and governors shortly on his arrival in Abuja spoke on self-medication.
He called it “one of our terrible things.”
“We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more because over there they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow everything,” he said.
In a separate analysis of the president’s health status yesterday, Professor Williams said it is imperative to know the possible causes of the anaemia.
He listed these as anaemia caused by self medication, anaemia associated with cancer or anaemia due to blood loss from self medication that “may affect the stomach and intestines as in aspirin toxicity.”
His words: “the negative clinical findings on the president that was published in The Nation on Feb 26, 2017 has been confirmed by the disclosure that the President was transfused with whole blood.
“In a previous photo of his hands prior to transfusion his nail beds were very pale indicative of clinical anaemia. The subsequent photograph of his hands that was analyzed showed that he was no longer clinically anaemic.
“The clinical history given by Mr. President that for the past 18 months he had been lethargic and feeling tired prior to his vacation is consistent with tiredness due to anaemia.
“Regaining his strength after transfusions that facilitated his return home suggests that the anaemia had been corrected successfully.
“There is therefore a preliminary diagnosis of anaemia meaning insufficient blood in the circulation.
“When this happens many organs including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and lungs are starved of oxygen that is carried by blood to all parts of the body for efficient functioning of the person. “Sudden loss of blood as in road traffic accidents could be fatal. In this case the anaemia has been insidious and gradual over time.”
Continuing, Prof Williams said: “The question that arises in the absence of information, which is understandable, is the cause of the anaemia.
“The only information that can be gleaned from the Presidents history on arrival is his admonition against self medication. By so doing is he giving us some more relevant information that he had been told in London?
“This is the first time that a President advises that all citizens should trust their doctors and refrain from self medication. Is it possible that his anaemia is drug induced or drug related and that investigations in London revealed this? We do not know. If this is true common pain relieving drugs like Panadol may cause kidney damage and give rise to anaemia for which he received transfusions.
“Alternatively certain drugs also cause liver damage and anaemia but this is unlikely in his case since he was not jaundiced.”
But he also admitted that “there are so many other causes of anaemia that cannot be dealt with here.”
“Of relevance to our last observation is the possibility that this may be anaemia related to some type of cancer that must be ruled out. Looking at the photos on arrival there is one suspicious positive finding and that his loss of muscle mass on the face in the area of the zygomatic arch below the ears.
“This is either due to some cancer somewhere or due to aging.”
He said that the little snippets of information from the President’s history and disclosure on his health status may help millions of Nigerians damaging their vital organs from unbridled ingestion of over the counter (OTC) pain relieving and other drugs.”
He urged adequate publicity on the adverse effects of self medication and described the President’s view on the issue as a big public service to the health sector.
“Assuming this is the correct scenario the nation owes the president a debt of gratitude and if this is not correct the president has done a great service by highlighting the adverse events and dangers of self medication that is so rampant in the nation,” he said.
It is not surprising that end stage renal disease is relatively common in the country and these patients require dialysis.
But he also pointed out that the President has a constitutional right to privacy regarding his medical records and diagnosis of any ailment just like any other citizen in the world.
“Protection of privacy is an extremely important feature in a democracy,” he said, adding: “however we, the people, have elected the President and are paying his salary and upkeep.
“We are therefore entitled to be concerned and to know that he has a sound mind in a sound body to govern us appropriately and effectively.
“There is really no need for secrecy because we are all mortals destined for the departure lounge en route to the other side called Heaven.
“The unfortunate aspect of the Nigerian life and society is that any health challenge can be exploited for political reasons, and may be used and abused by aspirants to high office. This is an unhealthy trend that must be discouraged in our national polity.”
Buhari at a meeting with members of his cabinet and state governors shortly on his return home on Friday said he could not recollect being this ill in his 74 years on earth.
He had originally planned to be away for 18 days but ended up spending 36 days more, undergoing tests, receiving treatment and resting.
“I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man, including the military with its ups and downs,” Buhari said.
He did not reveal the ailment he was treated for, but confirmed that he got blood transfusion during the vacation.
He hinted that he would be returning abroad in a few weeks for further medical attention.
“I couldn’t recall when last I had blood transfusion; I couldn’t recall honestly I can say in my 70 years. I couldn’t remember this drug that Nigerians take so much, very common.
“I think one of our terrible things is self drug administration. We have to trust our doctors more and trust ourselves more because over there they only take drugs when it is absolutely necessary. They don’t just swallow everything.”