Yar’Adua suffers relapse – Doctors place him on observation – President postpones his return to Nigeria indefinitely

THE cheering news of a possible early return of President Umaru Yar’Adua to the country from his medical trip in Saudi Arabia was shattered on Sunday, when contrary information filtered through the political circles indicating that the president’s stay in the Arabian country would be further prolonged. Top politicians had, on Saturday evening, received the cheering news that the president was responding well to 

treatment in Saudi Arabia and that he could return to the country early this week.

Sources had said that the president was on the telephone with some political leaders on Saturday afternoon and that he had assured them that he would return to the country early in the week.

It was also gathered in Abuja that the Presidential Villa was making plans to receive the president either in the early hours of Monday or Tuesday. But it was gathered on Sunday that Yar’Adua’s condition relapsed, prompting doctors in the Saudi hospital to advise against any early trip to Nigeria.

Sources said that the president’s situation took a bad turn on Saturday night, prompting doctors to place him on observation. It was gathered that the president’s entourage could no longer place a date on his possible return, following the latest development.

“The president’s situation is said to have relapsed late on Saturday. The doctors out there have placed him on observation and nobody can say for now when he will return to the country,” a source said on Sunday.

Another source said that the only option left for the presidential team was for them to use an air ambulance to convey him to Nigeria. “Some people are of the view that such a decision could be counterproductive, especially when the opposition gets wind of it. They are likely going to blow it out of proportion, so it is advised that the president listens to the advice of his doctors and take the deserved rest,” another source told the Nigerian Tribune.

Sources said that it might not be possible for the president to embark on a long journey in the next one week, thus making any travel arrangements impossible.
President Yar’Adua left the country in the night of Monday, November 23, after he had sent copies of the 2010 budget through his Special Adviser on National

Assembly Matters, Senator Mohammed Abba Aji. The Presidency, on Thursday, announced through Yar’Adua’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, that the president was suffering from acute pericarditis.

Adeniyi had said that the president, after returning from the Abuja Central Mosque, where he performed the Juma’at prayers on Friday, November 20, “complained of left-sided severe chest pain, which preliminary medical examinations suggested was acute pericarditis, an inflammatory condition of the covering of the heart.”

He said that the Chief Physician to the President, Dr. Salisu Banye, in a report sent from Saudi Arabia, however, had assured Nigerians that Yar’Adua was receiving treatment for the illness and was responding remarkably well.

Some medical experts, who commented on the president’s health situation, stated that he was suffering from Churg Strauss Syndrome. Experts say that acute pericarditis, the inflammation of the sac-like covering of the heart, is one of the symptoms of the advanced stage of the incurable degenerative disease known as Churg Strauss Syndrome.

Information on the website of the Churg Strauss Syndrome Association describes the condition thus:

•Churg Strauss Syndrome is a rare systemic (affecting the whole body) autoimmune (a condition where one’s immune system mistakes the body’s cells and tissues as foreign and attacks them) disease characterised by inflammation of small to medium-sized arteries, arterioles and venules. This inflammatory process of blood vessels is more commonly known as vasculitis.”

Churg Strauss vasculitis is characterised by the invasion and abnormal increase of a white blood cell known as an eosinophil. The eosinophils cluster together and release harmful granules that collect in different parts of the body as inflammatory nodule lesions. This eosinophilic inflammation, along withasthma, is the hallmark of Churg Strauss Syndrome. The inflammatory process can cause impaired blood flow to various organ systems. The resultant damage to different organs may be temporary or permanent.

•Churg Strauss is a baffling disorder that is difficult to diagnose and one whose effects vary widely from patient to patient. Some people have mild symptoms which barely affect day-to-day living, while others suffer from a wide variety of problems, including sinus problems, rashes, lung involvement,peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal problems and heart involvement.”

•CSS is not contagious and is not inherited. Its cause is unknown. There is no cure, but many people achieve long term remissions. Because there is no cure for CSS and relapses are common, it is very important that the disease be carefully monitored by a physician with regularly scheduled lab tests, even while in remission.