In September 2015 Edwin Ikwu and his wife Benedicta came to the House of Welcome, an Asylum Seeker and Refugee Support Centre in Carramar south western Sydney. He was in a wheelchair because he had undergone amputation of both legs and all his fingers as well as the loss of most of his ears and nose the previous year. He had come into the Refugee Centre to see if he could volunteer to help other refugees.
Edwin is a retired Electrical Engineer from Nigeria who has been a Rotary International member for 17 years. On 1st June 2014 he arrived in Sydney for the International Rotary Conference. He left Africa 2 days before a healthy and fit man but the day he arrived in Australia in June 2014, he felt unwell and was taken to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown. He was diagnosed with septicaemia which progressed to acute renal failure and toxic shock syndrome due to an unknown organism. He was treated with IV antibiotics and haemodialysis and developed extensive dry gangrene leading to the loss of his legs, fingers nose ears and lips.
He spent months in hospital and was finally discharged from rehabilitation at Balmain Hospital in October 2014. He suffered a left sided stroke on 7 April 2015, from which he has almost completely recovered. The Australian government finally issued his wife Benedicta with a visa so she could travel to Australia to support him in 2015.
With the help of Balmain for Refugees, Edwin has been granted a Bridging Visa whilst the Department of Immigration is assessing Mr Ikwu's application for Asylum & a Permanent Protection Visa on the grounds that it would be unsafe for him to return to Nigeria due to discrimination of the disabled and lack of support services.
The volunteer who interviewed Edwin at the House of Welcome arranged for Edwin to be seen by Associate Professor Munjed Al-Muderis a world renown orthopaedic surgeon, himself a refugee from Iraq. Edwin was seen at the Osseointegration Clinic at Norwest Hospital at Bella Vista In October 2015 and at the end of the session the news was great: Edwin is definitely a candidate for prosthetic fingers and legs.
A/Prof. Muderis suggested getting his hands operated on first to help in daily activities like feeding and dressing which would also reduce the burden of care for his wife. We are hoping to raise enough funds to get him these prosthetic hands. In the long term the aim would be for him to get prosthetic legs as well.