This Christmas will be like no other – ever – for Obinna and Amarachi Mary Ugwoke. The couple’s twin boys, John and James, were born on May 8 at First Covenant Hospital in Satellite Town, Nigeria. But this typically joyful time provoked serious anxiety for the couple: the babies were conjoined at the stomach.
Already struggling to eke out a living for his family, which includes two older children, Obinna was completely overwhelmed with the medical condition of his sons. Doctors had recommended that surgery to separate the twins be performed as soon as possible, and they were moved to Lagos University Hospital to receive appropriate care after two weeks. Five months later, Obinna and Amarachi Mary still had no idea what to do for their babies.
But God works in mysterious ways. The Ugwokes are parishioners of the Redemptorist Archangels’ Catholic Church in Satellite Town. Their neighbors and fellow parishioners, the Nwakuches, brought their plight to the attention of Fr. Vincent Ezezue. A miracle was on the way.
Fr. Vincent visited the Ugwokes at the hospital and promised to do something to save their babies. Fr. Vincent launched a campaign to raise $22,200.00, the cost to separate the twins in India, in October. Far beyond all expectations, the money was raised within one month. But the total cost, including travel expenses, exceeded $33,500.00. That goal also was met, thanks to Fr. Vincent’s tenacious resolve, the incomparable generosity of his parishioners and a network of friends who rallied to his clarion call for assistance, as well as the goodwill of generous Nigerians across the country.
The twins and their parents flew to India on November 20 and were admitted at Narayana-Health-Mazundar Shaw Medical Centre in Bangalore. Surgery to separate the twins was performed on November 24 by Dr. Ashley J.D. Cruz, Senior Consultant, Pediatric Surgeon/Urology and Dr. Sanjay Rao, Senior Pediatric Surgeon. The separation required only one operation, which was performed without the slightest hitch.
The Ugwoke family returned to Nigeria on December 11 and spent two days at Georges Memorial Hospital at Lekki to confirm that the twins’ internal organs and systems were functioning properly.
When the family came to present the twins and express their gratitude to Fr. Vincent at Archangels’ Church on December 13, it was a scene of great excitement and joy. Very Rev. Kingsley Onyekuru, Vice Provincial Superior of Nigeria, Fr. Callistus Onyeanusi, an associate parish priest, and Engr. Austine Akagu, the Vice Chairman of the Archangels’ Parish Pastoral Council, also helped celebrate the successful surgery.
Fr. Vincent declared Sunday, December 17 a Day of Presentation and Thanksgiving for little James and John. Parishioners of Archangels’ Church will rejoice with the Ugwoke family and give thanks to God for the surgery that saved the lives of the twins, and for using Fr. Vincent and their parish as instruments to bring about a miracle for the Ugwoke family. Fr. Vincent invites everyone to share the news about the miracles God is performing in Archangels’ Parish in Satellite Town.
by Vincent Ezezue, C.Ss.R.