By Chukwuemeka Opara
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Dr Emeka Ogah, has confirmed the death of one its consultants, Dr Canice Ebirim on Tuesday during the Super Eagles and Argentina match.
Ogah told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday that reports reaching him suggested that Ebirim died within the period of the match.
The CMD said that he received the news of his death at about 9 p.m. while the match was ongoing.
Ogah said that a friend of the deceased informed him that Ebirim started behaving funny within that period.
“Ebirim’s friend said that the deceased started moving suspiciously and solicited for assistance which made him intervene and took him (Ebirim) to the hospital.
“Efforts made to revive him at our hospital proved abortive as he died but we would liaise with his family to conduct an autopsy.
“We are surprised at his death because he consulted at the hospital on Tuesdays. We have to wait till autopsy is conducted to draw further conclusions,” he said.
A friend of the deceased, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that he (Ebirim) resided in Owerri with his family and only visited FETHA during his clinic days.
“He was a dedicated and lively fellow who will surely be missed by his family, friends and associates,” he said.
Dr Hyacinth Emele, the immediate past Chairman, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Imo state branch, also confirmed the incident to NAN, describing it as a heavy blow to the association.
“The NMA in Imo and indeed in Nigeria is in deep shock. This is a heavy blow. More than just a colleague, he was a brother, one who could never hurt a fly,” he said.
On the possible cause of the doctor’s death, Emele said: “Dr Ebirim has been a hypertensive patient who has also been on medication.
“What happened to him is what we call sudden death syndrome which most times are caused by a cardiac arrest.
“As a patriotic Nigerian who is passionate about his country just like many of us including me, it is possible the outcome of that match may have triggered the confusion in his system, causing him to slump.
“I think an autopsy will reveal what exactly transpired in his system. When that is done, the exact cause of death will be made known to the public.”
Sgt. Michael Attah, the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Heartland Estate, Owerri, where the doctor lived with his family until his death, said the management of the estate confirmed the incident on Wednesday.
“We thought it was a joke until we confirmed it on Wednesday. We feel sad because he was someone we trusted with the position of treasurer in the estate,” he said.
Ebirim is survived by his father, wife, four children and relations.