Although a newborn’s gender is determined at birth, however, for Tolani Oladiji, his could not be ascertained as he was born with both the male and female reproductive organs. Now five, his parents who are desperate to correct the anomaly speak with DOYIN ADEOYE on what the situation had cost them, while also hoping that well-meaning individuals would come to their aid.
The first question many people ask after the birth of any newborn is the gender of the child. And this can be answered in most cases, by simple examination of the external genitalia of the baby.
However, for parents of five-year-old Tolani Oladiji (not real names), this question has remained unanswered even over the years as the child was born with both the male and female reproductive organs, therefore making it difficult to attribute a gender to him.
Describing the situation as a nightmare for the family, the mother, Mrs Rebecca Oladiji, said although the pregnancy ultrasound scan revealed that the baby was a boy, confusion started when the sex of the baby could not be ascertained at birth.
“The problem started when I gave birth to him in 2012. I noticed that he had both sex organs and confused, we went to the Adeoyo Hospital where we were referred to the University College Hospital (UCH). Unfortunately, when we got to UCH, we were told that they were on strike, so we had to go to Oluyoro Hospital, where we went back and forth for nine months, before we were referred back to UCH.
“So we went back to UCH where we were made to understand that we needed to do some tests before surgeries could be done to correct the anomaly. We did about three tests, before another one was recommended in 2013, which cost N80,700 as at then, but we were not able to do it because of lack of finance.
“That same test now costs N160,000, which we still can’t afford. The test is to determine whether he is supposed to be a male or a female, as this will determine the type of surgery that will be done,” the mother said.
Raising the child as a boy, the father, Mr Thomas Oladiji, said lack of finance hindered them from making further moves to save the situation.
“We made several attempts to raise money for the necessary test, but we could not and that is why we didn’t go back to the hospital since 2013, until now. Presently, we do not even know what it would cost us to do the surgeries,” he said.
With both reproductive organs clearly visible, Tolani’s vagina seems more functional than the penis. And with only one testicle in the scrotal sac, the penis although hardens when he needs to pee, the urine, however, comes through what would pass for female private part.
Comrade Kehinde Akinyemi, the Executive Director of the Child Growth Concern Initiative, a child rights organisation which focuses on protection of child rights, and also championing the fund raising campaign for the boy, said it is important that the test is done immediately, to avoid psychological trauma for the boy later in life.
“The kayotype test which was recommended to the parents in 2013 is to determine the prominent organ to retain when eventually the need for surgical operations arises. The test was put at N80,700 then, so I had to revalidate the content by visiting the laboratory where the test would to be conducted, and on getting there, we were told that the test now costs N160,000.
“This is however, not the major surgery needed, but only a test to determine the gender. So that means that the financial implication of the whole process is really on the high side, which unfortunately, Tolani’s parents cannot afford.
“That is why we are seeking help from Nigerians to assist them financially so that the child would not remain like this. This is a country where stigmatisation prevails; he might be at risk of that when people get to know about him. Even his teachers in school have noticed the abnormality, because his name and records show that he is a boy, so they find it very strange that he has to squat like a girl to urinate. They had to call the parents to seek for assistance and it was at that point that they got to our organisation,” he said.
Looking chubby and healthy, Tolani is a cheerful and exciting child, who is ignorant of what the problem is.
Adding that he is still within a good age range for the operation, Comrade Akinyemi said, “The doctor confirmed to us that his age is right for the necessary surgeries. What we are yet to know is how much the major operation will cost, and we cannot know that until the test is done. But, health wise, he is very okay. He is a child and does not know something is wrong, but when he gets older, we don’t know what would become of him,” he said.
While the mother is only a petty trader, the father is a messenger in a private firm, and both are optimistic that surgeries as doctors have recommended, would remedy the situation.
The couple therefore appealed to the government, corporate bodies, religious groups, non-governmental organisations and well-meaning individuals to assist them to raise fund for the surgeries.
They would want all assistance to be made through the Stanbic Bank account, with the name: Okebukola Samson Olufemi and account number: 0011453092. They could also be reached on 08116774077.