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Irene Ebisan Rewane Damola (1944 – 2016)




The late Dr Irene Ebisan Rewane Damola was born in Lagos on April 29, 1944, to the illustrious family of Dame Esther Jemine Rewane (nee Awani) and the late Chief (Barr) Ogbemi Newe Rewane (Ologbotsere of Warri) both from Warri, Delta State. She was not only the first of seven children but also the first grandchild of the family.

Irene spent her childhood both in Lagos and in Warri. Upon her father’s departure to England in 1952 in search of the proverbial “Golden Fleece”, opting to study Law after qualifying as a Surveyor, she had to move to Lagos to live with her famous uncle, Pa Alfred Ogbeyiwa Rewane, the redoubtable and indomitable martyr of Nigerian democracy who was assassinated under the despotic regime of Gen. Sani Abacha at the ripe age of 79 in 1995. Irene’s maternal grandfather, Mr. O. E. Awani and members of the Awani family were also resident in Lagos and she had a delectable childhood full of doting love, care, generosity, affluence, security and supervision.

She started her early education at LADILAC Institute, Yaba; Baptist Girls High School, Agbor and Hussey College, Warri.

Upon the completion of secondary school, she gained admission into the University of Lagos (UNILAG) in 1965 to study Medicine, where she met her heartthrob and future husband, Dr. Adebiyi Damola who was also a student at the university. They were such inseparable swans. Upon completion of her PRELIM, she was admitted into the College of Medicine at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in 1966 until 1971.

In 1972, Irene and ‘Biyi, got married at what would now be deemed a “society wedding” with up to a 1,000 guests, a pre-wedding breakfast at Federal Palace Hotel with the late sage, Pa Obafemi Awolowo as chairman of the wedding. Irene always recounted memory of this momentous event to her children with immense joy.

Later that year, they had their first child Toyin (now Barr/Mrs Akinrolabu) before proceeding to England the following year for their respective areas of specialisation and postgraduate studies. While in England, they had their second child Biyi Jnr (now Dr Biyi Damola) in 1977. By this time Irene had specialised in Radiology and was working as a Senior Registrar.

In 1978, Irene joined the service of LUTH as a Senior Registrar in the Radiology department. In 1979, she gave birth to their third child, Folakemi (Mrs Folakemi Damola Mayo). She became a Consultant Radiologist in 1981. In 1983, she gave birth to their fourth, Bukolami (Mrs Bukolami Oluanuiga-Aka Ebisan) while juggling creditably the dual responsibilities of a wonderful mother and consummate professional. She remained at LUTH till 1986 before opting for private practice with her husband at Tiofili Clinic in Lagos. She worked there briefly before setting up her own practice, O.N Rewane Memorial X-Ray Clinic, Warri, in memory of her beloved father in 1987. Her practice still exists in Warri till today.

In 1989, they both left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia to continue their practice and sustain their professional skills as a result of the dwindling fortunes and state of the Nigerian health sector. They both lived and worked in several cities in Saudi Arabia including Jeddah and the capital Riyadh. During their sojourn in the Saudi Kingdom, the family spent every holiday together either in Saudi or in Lagos.

Having successfully trained their children to the highest levels of their respective fields of specialisation and endeavours; the couple dreamt of retiring to Nigeria and reuniting with families and friends and spending the winter of their lives travelling and doing the traditional “grand parenting duties”. She longed to retire and enjoy the simplicity and status of being a “house wife”. Unfortunately, in 2007, her darling husband passed away in Saudi Arabia much to her shock, sadness and despair.

Irene stayed on in Saudi Arabia till her retirement in 2014. She actually spent 15 years at Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Centre, Riyadh (1999-2014) where she served as Acting Head of the Radiology Department. On the job, she had responsibility for arranging and coordinating work schedules for all staff. She also helped to set up a branch of the hospital in another city within the Kingdom. She was deeply and dearly loved by colleagues and patients for her professionalism, passion and compassion.

She belonged to many professional associations including the Nigerian Medical Council (full and special registration 1972 and 1978), Saudi Council for Medical Specialties, and General medical Council, among others.

She was a Fellow of the Faculty of Radiologists of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (1977); Fellow of the Medical College of Radiologists, Nigeria (1981); and Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons, West Africa (1987). She was also a Visiting Fellow, University Of Lund Teaching Hospital, Sweden.

The late Irene lived a fulfilled, happy and successful life until February 10, 2016, when she answered the inevitable and ineluctable call to glory and eternity. May her sweet soul rest in perfect peace.

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