An Ode to Professor Adeyinka Charles Adisa (1965 – 2020) M.B.B.S (Ibadan), FWACS, FACS, FICS
By Abraham Ariyo
Adeyinka (Adisco) was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, on January 5th, 1965 and passed on December 28th, 2020. He attended St. Michaels’ Anglican Primary School, Esinele in Oyo, Oyo State (1971-76) and Abiodun Atiba Memorial Institute in Oyo, Oyo State (1976-81), before gaining admission to Nigeria’s premier medical school, The College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (1982-88). From here on, he embarked on a lifelong but accelerated journey in the West African world of surgery. He did postgraduate training in surgery at The University College Hospital, Ibadan (1991-93) and at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu (1993-95).
Adisa was a man of distinction. He was the best student in his primary school and was awarded a distinction in 1976. He obtained Grade I with Distinction in his secondary school WAEC examinations in 1981. He graduated with Distinction (Anatomy) in the University of Ibadan 1988 graduating class, an honor equivalent to First Class Degree in Medicine and Surgery. He completed his postgraduate residency and fellowship training in surgery in a record 4 years (instead of 6). I don’t know anyone else who has done that. Further, he defended his work at the West African College of Surgeons at the part II examination in 1995. Again, he excelled with Distinction. He obtained the highest scores and was badged the ‘Jide Ajayi Gold Medal in Surgery’ – awarded to the best graduating surgeon at the Finals of the West African College of Surgeons Examinations.
In medical school, Adisa and I were always in the same group because of the close proximity of our last names, alphabetically. Thus, he was my fiercest competitor. In our 1985 2nd MB examination, a major make or break examination, I, like our classmates, was studying ”Medicine” around the clock. However, I realized that Adisa, a new Christian Convert (a born-muslim), was spending a lot of time reading the Bible, going to Bible lessons, and attending regular Student Union (SU) Christian Fellowships on U.I. campus. At the examination time, he passed with Distinction. I concluded then that Adisa was a genius, a man with a magnetic brain in a restless human body.
Adisa married the love of his life, Chizoba, and they were blessed with two beautiful children. He loved his wife so much that he moved his training from UCH to UNTH so they could be closer to his wife’s home in Abia State. Adisa loved Abia State and Abia State loved him back immensely. In 1995, as a Chief Resident in Medicine at Howard University, I approached our Institution’s Chief of Surgery, the All-American Oncologic Surgeon, Professor LaSalle Leffall, (who was also the President of American Cancer Society and the President of the American College of Surgeons) about having Adisa train at Howard University. He said yes. However, Adisa asked me, Ariyo, if all the good doctors leave Nigeria, who will take care of the poor, the indigent and the downtrodden? Tears filled my eyes. He inspired me. I passed this inspiration on to my heart colleagues and together we started the American Cardiac Team that performs invasive cardiovascular missions for free to the poor in Nigeria every quarter. Adisa had that kind of inspiring effect on everyone he met, with a smile. He was a very selfless human being. Again, he told me, he loved Abia State and Abia State loved him back. Abia State was home.
Upon finishing his surgical training in 1995, he was offered consultant positions at both UCH and UNTH, a rare occurrence. Again, he had a different plan. He moved back to Abia State and helped the newly established Abia State Medical School and Abia State University Teaching Hospital in Aba. Like everything else with Adisa, he quickly rose through the ranks: Lecturer I (1995-2000), Senior Lecturer (2000-2004), Associate Professor (Reader) (2004-2007), and Professor of Surgery from 2007 till date. He was the Head of Department of Surgery (2000-2007), Pioneering Director of Postgraduate Residency training (2000-present), Consultant Surgeon (1995-present), and former Dean of Clinical Medicine, Aba Campus.
Professor Adisa was a distinguished surgeon, an astute examiner, a prolific writer, an accomplished farmer, and a proficient academic researcher. He published over 50 manuscripts in reputable academic journals including publication this year (2020) in an American Journal. He wrote book chapters in textbooks. He was a great teacher, and was always very proud to show me how many of his former students at ABSU had become world-class clinicians and surgeons in the USA and around the world. That made him extremely proud.
Until his death, he was an Editor, Journal of Global Medicine, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Medical Investigation and Practice. He was an Examiner, West African College of Surgeons, the Chairman of the Outreach Committee of the West African College of Surgeons, member of the Court of Examiners of the Faculty of Surgery of the West African College of Surgeons and member, Accreditation teams of the West African College of Surgeons. He was the West African Coordinator of the Ptolemy Project: A joint initiative between the Office of International Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada, and the West African College of Surgeons to build capacity in academic research among Surgeons in the developing world. He was a Fellow, West African College of Surgeons, Fellow, American College of Surgeons and Fellow, International College of Surgeons.
When Adisa was asked what was the most memorable event during his entire medical school experience in our 1988 graduating year book, his answer was: ‘The day I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e., the day I got saved.’ Further, his favorite quote was: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all other things will be added unto you.” Throughout medical school, his hobbies were “Evangelism and Bible studying”. He was a devout Christian and the National President, Nigerian Christian Graduate Fellowship and a member of the Board of Directors of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons.
Like a comet, he moved through this life with speed. He wasted no time in this world. Just like he knew his time was short, he did everything rapidly. In his short time on this earth, he accomplished what most humans won’t do in 100 years. During his short stay, he and his wife traveled to every part of this globe: Ireland, China, South Africa, Budapest, you name it. We ended up giving him another Distinctive award on traveling – Ajala Travel award. As he knew, this world is just for a short stay, and heaven is home.
In December, 2019, he completed his world’s travel with a visit to the Holy Land in Israel. He sent daily pictures and accompanying Biblical scriptures. There, he walked the foot-steps of our Lord Jesus Christ: from Bethlehem to Judea and Sea of Galilee, Fig tree to Sycamore tree, Jerusalem to Bethany, from the Garden of Gethsemane to Calvary at Golgotha – “It is finished”. Lastly, he visited the Mount Olives where Jesus ascended into Heaven. At that point, Adisa appeared to have completed his journey on earth.
He came back to Nigeria. By the summer of 2020, he buried his last living parent, his father. By the fall of 2020, he fell sick. By December, he got worse. Like brave and determined humans, we rallied around him. The entire Abia and Enugu States’s Medical team and the entire health system aggressively responded and offered the best available care, and he fought the fight, but the Lord wanted him more. On December 28th, 2020, he joined the Lord.
While we on earth will ensure Adisa’s name is enshrined among the West African greatest Surgeons that ever lived, we pray that God enshrines his name among His greatest servants and grant him glory and eternal life in Heaven.
Adisa, you have completed your journey in this world. You were a brave soldier, God’s elite warrior and you fought with distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the regular call of duty. It’s time for you to rest. Sleep in the bosom of your Lord till me meet again.
We celebrate you today because of His Amazing Grace.
Abraham A Ariyo, M.D. (Ibadan), M.P.H. (Harvard), FACC.
Director, HeartMasters Cardiology
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, Texas.