Till further notice, Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda is the world’s oldest person living with the sickle cell disease. On November 1, 2015, the conqueror celebrated her 90th birthday.
For a refreshing change, we have a rare situation that even makes a mockery of science.
Logically people living with this health condition are feared to live shorter lives than expected. This Nigerian woman from the Yoruba tribe has proven that there is more to life than doctors’ reports.
Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda was born in November 1925 to a prominent family. Back then the life expectancy of people living with the disease was as low as 5 years. Despite the seeming irrefutable medical assertion, the 90-year old fighter ignorantly lived past 5 and 18 times over.
At the time of her birth, people were not enlightened enough to consider Genotypes and other health compatibility tests before tying the knots. She was a victim of this. She was not diagnosed with the disease early enough. The excruciating pain and health crisis that comes with the health condition kept her from going to school till the age of 12.
As a warrior determined to survive, she kept on with her education regardless of the health crisis that shoots in from time to time. She proceeded to Queens College Lagos to complete her secondary education. There she met her future spouse, Bolaji Alakija.
Together they had 5 children alongside others from his other wives. As funny as it sounds her doctor-husband provided her with helpful supplements but never gave her the real picture of her condition. She only got to know that in full scale after their 5th child. She gave birth naturally for all those times.
As a committed Muslim, Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda has made pilgrimages to Mecca for as much as 13 times and the Umrah, 6 times. Till her late 80’s she was still fervently observing her Ramadan fast.
“I have always maintained a middle road in life. Moderation keeps you going, when those who indulge themselves have lost their balance.”
With the ‘moderation’ motto, Onikoyi is not food selective. She eats virtually everything. She has a somewhat normal blood pressure- 160/90. Despite the sensitivity that should surround her health, this great woman goes about her life affairs as normal as possible. She says she is not afraid to take public transports in the ever busy and buzzing Lagos roads.
Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda is a true survivor. From her life experience, she is a living replica of golden strength. With her condition, she was able to manage her emotional state at the times she lost both husband and only son. Her faith helped her cope and hope for the better.
“I prayed to Allah that the rest of my children should outlive me.”
As science gives hope for longer life expectancy for people living with sickle cell anemia, Asiata Onikoyi-Laguda proves beyond reasonable doubt that the secret to life is indeed a mystery.
Statistics show that over 300,000 children are born with the disease in sub-Saharan Africa in a year. However Experts say the life expectancy in present times can even exceed 50 years.