Nigeria’s legendary footballer, Kanu Nwankwo who first had an open-heart surgery in 1996 after a routine medical examination revealed a heart valve defect, has recounted how his wife, Amara saved his life and then nursed him back to health.
Former Super Eagles legend, Kanu Nwankwo, has opened up on how his wife, Amara Kanu, once made a life-saving discovery that has probably kept him alive until today.
According to a new book on healthy living written by Amara, she recalled the day she noticed that his heartbeat was not regular and how she nursed him back to health after his second heart surgery in the US.
“His heartbeat sounded much louder than normal. I was listening to his chest and it sounded odd. It was the same faulty valve. It was like a ticking time bomb. It’s just one of those things we were lucky to find out.
“Our youngest was just three at the time. It was very hard. We broke it to them little by little. I said, ‘Daddy will be OK. He’s in good hands’. If I didn’t have positive thinking my life would have been in tatters. From lying down to sitting was a big deal. He had to learn to walk again,” Amara wrote in the book.
But Kanu was kept motivated during his recovery by regular calls from his children.
She wrote: “The children would be face-timing me, asking: ‘How is Daddy?’. I remember one time, he was wearing a hospital gown and the youngest said: “Daddy, why are you in nightwear? What’s wrong? You are normally always in sportswear’.”
After six weeks in the hospital, Kanu was strong enough to be flown back to the UK. “The children were waiting for us when we got back. They wanted to jump on me but they had to take it easy,” said the former Arsenal player.
Amara said her husband’s doctor was impressed by how she was able to keep him healthy and play professional football despite his heart condition, and this, she says motivated the writing of the book.
“Kanu’s heart doctor said to me, ‘What’s the routine you have been using with Kanu all these years for him to play football and win all his medals, the FA Cup and everything?”, she wrote.
“So I just said healthy eating, exercise and listening to your body. I wanted to use all my knowledge to help other people.”
Kanu completely agrees with his wife. He says: “My wife is right, you should listen to your body and take action.”
After his heroic feat at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, it was discovered that Kanu had a serious heart defect.
Kanu’s condition and experience over the years led to the creation of the Kanu Heart Foundation, an organisation which helps predominantly young African children who suffer heart defects and whose work was expanded to provide aid for homeless children in 2008.