27-year-old Michael Anthony after helping to free a 16-month old baby trapped in a fire in Makurdi is now battling for survival at the intensive care unit of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH).
When Michael Anthony, 27, braved the odds and dived into a raging fire penultimate Tuesday night, he had only one aim – to free a 16-month old baby that was trapped in the inferno. In the end, he succeeded in removing the baby from harm’s way.
But Michael is now battling to remain alive after sustaining first and third degree burns in the process.
Writhing in excruciating pain when Weekly Trust visited him at the Intensive Care Unit, Ward 1, of the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Michael summoned strength to explain how the incident happened at their residence at Owner Occupier Estate situated along Chief Abu King Shuluwa road.
“I had just returned from work on the fateful day at about 9pm when we (my parents and siblings) started hearing the continued cry of a baby. Initially, we had thought that our neighbour was beating her child but when the cry was becoming unbearable for us, we all ran outside our house, only to discover that our neighbour’s flat was on fire.
“By this time, the entire sitting room was already up in flames. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do if the baby must be rescued, except to brave the odds.
“I just couldn’t stand there doing nothing and wait till the baby dies. So, I tried to assist the little boy as I paved my way into the bedroom where he was and threw him out from the window”, he explained.
Michael, an electrician said though he got badly burnt in his bid to save the child, “I’m grateful however that the attempt was successful. I don’t in any way regret my actions”, he stressed.
On the part of his 61-year-old father, Anthony Anthony, there is no cause for regret since his son was suffering for a good cause.
He said, “I am very happy for what my son did. We all ran out of the house that fateful night but I did not know when Michael meandered his way into the burning apartment.
“He was with us and other neighbours as we tried in vain to break through the window to rescue the child. The fire was such that had overtaken the parlour, which is the only exit and entrance into the apartment. Before I realized what was happening, my son was already inside the apartment. He rescued the child through the window but the space could not contain his frame for escape.
“So, he had to stagger through the fire and eventually, God helped him out. I’m surprised how he found his way out but I give God praise in all things. That was how we immediately rushed him to the hospital,” he said.
Anthony, a trader who had lived in Makurdi for the past 38 years, appealed to both state and federal government as well as good spirited individuals to help Michael access quality treatment as the financial burden is gradually becoming unbearable for the family.
Similarly, the victim has also appealed for kind hearted donations to cater for his hospital needs. He expressed joy that his action were premised on the word of God often preached by his pastor, adding that, “whatever the case, my joy and prayer is for us to make heaven at last”.
Meanwhile, the fortunate baby’s mother, Mrs. Shiminenge Terfa, said that she had gone to a pharmacy shop within the area at about 8pm leaving her four children indoors when the incident occurred.
She only later discovered that soon after her exit from the house, the entire building went up in flames with her children trapped in her apartment.
She explained that while the other three children were promptly saved by neighbours, the little baby boy, Saanmoyol Terfa, was forgotten in the room which at the time was already engulfed with fire.
However, the shrieking cry of the baby alerted the neighbours who were helpless about the situation as at the time because the flames became too daring for anyone to contemplate an attempt to save the child.
But Michael, according to her, a native of Enugu State, who just couldn’t bear the crying infant, braved his way into the burning fire and bundled out the baby.
The young Igbo man, according to medical estimation, sustained a third degree burns for his act of bravery. He is now lying critically ill as doctors are battling to save his life, even as the baby he rescued has since been discharged from the same hospital.
Michael’s elder brother Charles, who was not at home when the incident happened, commended his brother for the bravery and also appealed to government at all levels, corporate organisations including well meaning Nigerians to help his brother live by lending financial assistance for his treatment.
Charles, however, commended the Benue State Commissioner for Water Resources, Conrad Wergba, who visited the hospital and extended financial help to his brother’s treatment.
A doctor who declined to give his name noted that Michael sustained mixed burns with first degree burns in some areas and third degree burns in other parts of his body.
He assured that by divine intervention, coupled with adequate money for medication, the Good Samaritan’s life would be spared.
NE observed at the time of visit, five medical personnel attending to the victim on his sick bed. One of them expressed gratitude that the young man who is now being referred to as, “angel Michael” within the hospital vicinity is responding to treatment.
“Though, he sustained a first degree burns, he is responding to treatment. He is better now than when he first came in. We appeal to good people to help him financially in order to sustain treatment”, the personnel added.