A few weeks ago, a Texas woman began a six years jail term in Houston. That was the main news. But something else caught my attention as I went through the story carried by several American newspapers.
The jail bird, Bowen-Wright has a son, Christopher Bowen. According to the story, the 10-year old boy has spent most of his life in and out of hospital.
Between 2009 and 2016, Christopher Bowen-Wright visited hospitals 323 times and underwent 13 surgeries. His visits reportedly began just 11 days after he was born.
The mother claimed that his son was suffering from, amongst many others, cancer, seizures and a rare degenerative neurological disorder. Along the way and as part of his treatment, doctors fitted him with a feeding tube, used an oxygen device and, sometimes, constrained him to a wheelchair. At some point, the boy was listed as a potential candidate for a lung transplant.
My son is not sick
The boy’s father kept insisting that his son was not sick. But nobody believed him. After a separation, he was considered a threat to his son’s health and banned by a court from seeing him.
But the boy was not sick.
The sickening path of the story was that the boy was not sick at all. At least, not from any of those ailments for which he was perpetually in intensive care, dosed with all kinds of medications and invaded by an army of surgeons.
And the Orisirisi doctors?
But for 7 years, the Orisirisi doctors were busy at work treating the poor boy for whatever his mother said he was suffering from and getting paid, big time. It was after the doctors have had their fill and the boy started developing medical complications from the unnecessary medical care he was receiving that they reported the mother, Bowen-Wright, to the relevant authorities.
Bowen-Wright is now in jail for subjecting her son to such horror.
Strangely, none of the American newspapers that carried the story raised the question of how doctors treated and operated on a little boy who was healthy for 7 years.
Strangely, some of the same doctors testified in court that the boy often seemed healthier than his mother claimed and that the unnecessary treatments had actually caused medical complications!
Strangely, neither the judge nor Bowen-Wright’s defense counsel nor any journalist ever asked the doctors what they were treating the boy for.
This story is not unique. Some psychiatrists have classified the mother’s behavior as a mental illness or a form of abuse referred to as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, in which one person falsifies another person’s illness and seeks unnecessary treatments for it. The perpetrator receives attention, sympathy, government benefits, and disability support. An estimated 600 to 1,200 cases occur in the United States each year.
How does a good thing become so bad?
American doctors are among the best in the world. How do they get involved in the bogus scheme of treating people for what they are not sick of? The answer is simple-the love of money. And that is why the cost of medical care in America has become the most prohibitive in the developed world. Some doctors are now routinely charged for prescribing medical tests, drugs and surgery which they clearly know their patients do not need. The American medical system is not what it is hyped to be any longer.
What is the implication for Nigerian medical tourists?
Buyers beware! America is a preferred destination for medical care for many Nigerians who can afford it. It is also a highly cherished status symbol to be said to be flown to an American hospital for an ailment, no matter how insignificant the ailment might be. It is even a status symbol to be said to have died in an American hospital. That is how ridiculous things have become.
Don’t be an Ode (idiot)
However, do Nigerians, especially government officials, really get value for the millions of dollars spent on their medical trips? Are Nigerian medical tourists being scammed by American orisirisi doctors? Your guess is as good as mine.
*Orisirisi Poju is used by the Yorubas to denote something that doesn’t look right but happening often.
(By the way, I am not a Yoruba person. So pardon me for any short comings in my use and translations of certain Yoruba words lately).