My name is Kofi Prince, On November 2008 as a result of a spinal cord injury, I became a quadriplegic. This is how I sustained my injury.
It all began at the tender and promising age of 21, with the unfortunate passing of my mother on November 18, 2007, back home in Ghana. Upon hearing of my mother’s passing, my eldest sister and I wanted to attend the funeral, but unfortunately our travel documents would not be ready in time. As a result, we postponed our trip until the following year, for the one year anniversary ceremony.
One year later, with our travel documents in order, my sister, her infant son and I decided to make the trip to Ghana. At that time, I was employed at a company, where I received insurance coverage and so prior to the trip, I contacted my insurance provider to verify the international travel assistance number. With this information in hand, I was all set for our flight, on Saturday November 8, 2008.
We arrived in Accra, Ghana, on Sunday November 9, 2008 at approximately 7 p.m., but unfortunately, our luggage did not arrive with us, nor would it arrive that same day. As a result, an airline representative suggested that we return the following day to retrieve our luggage. My sister, my nephew and I then left the airport for my uncle’s residence where we would stay overnight.
That night, it rained throughout the entire night. It rained so much that the following morning my uncle’s driver could not get the car to start, and so they took the car to the mechanic. With the car out of commission, we had to make alternate arrangements to retrieve our luggage from the airport.
At seven o’clock that evening, a taxi arrived to take us to the airport. I sat in the front passenger seat and my sister sat in the back seat, between my two uncles. Once situated in the car, we set out on our journey through the busy streets of Accra. After several minutes, we emerged through the traffic and the last thing that I remember was seeing a bridge ahead of us.
Usually, when someone is involved in a high impact car accident, the person loses the memory of the accident itself, but they can recall the events leading up to the accident. I am no different. I have no memory of how the accident occurred or, how I arrived at the Ghana military hospital, but from what I was told and from the details in the police report, the accident was as resolves of careless driving by the taxi driver causing him to lose control of the car on the overhead bridge, the vehicle then went airborne and crashed onto the road below. The lowest point of the car was at the roof on the passenger side, where I was sitting. It is also my understanding that before being taken to the hospital, we were robbed of our belongings.
Upon arrival at the military hospital, all I remember is asking someone to retrieve my travel insurance card from my luggage and contact the number on the card. I have since been told that I spent the next three days at the hospital in Ghana, before being taken by air ambulance to Marseilles, France, for surgery. (Ideally, spinal cord surgery is performed within an 18 hour period in order to reduce the amount of damage to the spine caused by swelling.)
When I woke up after surgery, I had no idea where I was or how got there. I was wearing a neck brace, I had a tube going through my nose and my mouth, and to my left there was a machine monitoring my vital signs. This was the first time that I realized that I may have gotten into an accident. The next thing I did was try to wipe my eyes, but when I tried to lift up my right hand, it felt like I was trying to lift a building. Then I tried to lift my left hand and it was just as difficult. Next, I tried to move my legs to sit up and I realized that I couldn’t do that either. Realizing I couldn’t move, I tried to call for help, but no sound came out of my mouth. I tried yelling, still no sound. I realized this couldn’t be good so I closed my eyes and said a prayer to thank God for my life because from all indications of the situation, I could have died and I also asked him to deliver me from this condition.
Ten minutes after I opened my eyes again, I started experiencing strange sensations throughout my body. First, it felt like I was burning alive. Thirty minutes later, I felt extremely cold, as if I was freezing alive. What felt like a few minutes later, the vital sign monitor began making noise and two nurses came in to my room. As they attended to me, they spoke to each other in a foreign language (which I later realized was French). I tried to ask them about my sister and nephew, but we were unable to communicate in the same language.
The following day, an English speaking doctor came in to my room to speak with me. He told me that I was injured in a car accident in Ghana and that because of my insurance coverage I had been transported to Marseilles, France for surgery. He explained that I was in the intensive care unit of the hospital because I sustained a very serious injury to my spinal cord (C-4) complete. He also explained that because of the injury, I am a quadriplegic, which mean that I am completely paralyzed from the neck down, which is why I could not move my body, or feel below my neck. Finally, he remarked that given that I was in the early stage of recovery, the level of the injury may change depending on how quickly the swelling in the surrounding tissue is reduced. After he finished speaking, I asked him about my family’s condition, but unfortunately, the only thing that he was able to tell me was that my family was still in Ghana, but that he was unsure of their condition. He did however reassure me that my father was on his way to France from Canada.
When my father got to France he mention to me that my sister and nephew was okay and they did not get injured but one of my uncle’s did as the results of that he was paralyzed from the waist down. We spent the remainder of the month of November in France until I was stable enough to travel with the air ambulance. When we got to Canada I spent additional two more months in intensive care unit before I was able to start my rehab.