In this interview, we speak with Coach Oluwayemisi Femi Akinbinu nee Akinyele, a dynamic and passionate individual with a strong value system and a deep commitment to helping others. A fifth child of six, Coach Akinbinu hails from Ifore in Ondo Kingdom and has spent over two decades working in the field of health insurance and managed health. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Coach Akinbinu is also a kidney transplant survivor and advocate who has dedicated herself to raising awareness and supporting others facing similar challenges. With her assertive, bold, and family-oriented personality, Coach Akinbinu is a role model for us all.
Why did you author this book?
The book, Roller Coaster, was written to chronicle my journey through Renal failure and living with a transplanted kidney, my survival, and how I have fared so far. It is a book, telling of hope, grace, and grit; it is to let people know that having a kidney transplant does not have to be the end of normal life and, with the help of God, one does not have to look or labelled by what one has been through. It is also to bring to light the plight of all Kidney Transplanted individuals.
Where can we get the book?
Roller Coaster is available on Amazon and Kindle on my website – yemisiakinbinu.com. The hard copies are also available in several outlets across Abuja and Lagos.
What process went into writing the book?
Authoring this book took me down memory lane and made me look back at how far I had come and see. Again, all my family and I had to go through was worth it. I gathered my thoughts and decided if I was ready to begin this chronicle, as it had not been an easy ride. After that, I put down my thoughts in sections and decided what should be included; of course, if I had to write every single thing that had happened, I may not be through with writing yet. I filled the sections with the desired information, then edited and checked for errors. Before sending it to the publishers, I had to reach all those whose names were mentioned therein to gain permission to include their names; we were then ready for the publishers.
Are you a first-time author? Otherwise, how did your other books fare?
What is next, now that the book is written?
Roller Coaster generated a lot of reactions and awareness, so it naturally resulted in more publicity and engagements for me as a public speaker. I have had to meet different personalities on radio and social media to help thrash out and speak to people regarding lessons drawn from the book and other peculiar scenarios. The book has also evolved a foundation to handle similar matters, so the work is only just beginning for me.
Tell us a story of your upbringing. One that would wow us and that connects with what you do now.
I hail from a humble family in Ifore in Ondo Kingdom, Ondo State, Nigeria. My father is a retired headmaster, while my mother was a seamstress turned businesswoman. I am the fifth of six children, and the entire family is closely knitted and bonded. We love each other and still retain that closeness, so every experience is shared between us all. What affected one affected the other. I always wanted to be a medical doctor and study at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU); there was no real reason for this except that OAU has always been a reputable institution, and at the time, there was a bias for such universities. If you did not attend certain schools, you were regarded as not having attended a university. I tried to gain admission to study medicine but could not get in. Eventually, I was offered a space to study Microbiology on the promise that I could switch to my beloved Medicine after a year. Of course, I was never able to transfer, but Microbiology was enough to kindle my empathy and passion for people dealing with health challenges. Encountering my condition and working in the health sector triggered my love and, more recently, the ongoing establishment of a foundation for people living with transplanted kidneys.
What one national matter would you want to contribute on? Please do contribute and let us get your opinion.
Naturally, the subject that is nearly always uppermost in my mind is kidney health, the many things that can go wrong with it and how our country does not seem to care about this critical issue. Our country has funds and policies for many other diseases, and I understand that they cannot be neglected, but the issue of Kidney health should also be well included. In my case, the infection did not result from poor lifestyle choices. Many other people are gradually deteriorating yet completely unaware because, in their minds, it can only occur from making unhealthy lifestyle decisions. The job of government must begin with proper awareness and then funding.
Many people do not have the financial means to seek help, so allow the condition to deteriorate into a more severe case that would need many more funds. There should be more healthcare schemes that can help nip kidney infections in the bud before it becomes so severe that the patient needs a transplant, as well as fund kidney transplants and care after the transplant is done.
There is also the issue of research and state-of-the-art healthcare. We do not always need to rely on healthcare outside the country to deal with these issues properly. As a nation, we can choose to invest productively in our healthcare so that we are the ones sought after for these cases rather than having it the other way around in almost every healthcare issue. Most of the medications needed for after-transplant care are formulated internationally; patients have to purchase them at extremely high prices. We can fund research to produce these medications here and test them to ensure they are safe before recommending them. The government should also work at providing a waiver for those importing such medicines so they can be cheaper for those who have to purchase them. They should also look into providing dialysis for free or next to nothing for those who need the sessions.
My name is Princess Oluwayemisi Femi Akinbinu. I am an author, counsellor, certified coach and Mental Health First Aider who majors in Fear Mastery. I am also a Health Insurance expert. I am also the founder of Arike Kidney Foundation (tentative name), where we take care of people living with transplanted kidneys; we aim to grow bigger and care for those living with kidney infections and provide solutions for them and give them hope.
What trending topic would you like to jump in? Please do jump in; let us get your opinion.
Well, I would like to jump into the issue of the upcoming elections. They are just around the corner, and in truth, Nigeria and Nigerians deserve better; we must vote right. We want a country where people can thrive and our young ones can live and flourish. Watching the brain drain is scary. The fight and struggle for a family to have children is really a battle for continuity; what would happen to us if all our young ones had to leave to survive? Nigeria would be nonexistent in the future, and it is too costly a price; in fact, it is unaffordable. Also, there is no place like home. Most of our young ones are only leaving because it is tedious to survive in the country and not because they find other places or lifestyles more attractive. Nigeria has always been a country of love and togetherness, rich in culture; it is an enviable place to call home, but we need to get our leaders right. I trust that this time around will not be business as usual; we have a country to save. We need people who genuinely love this country and want what is best for it, people who are ready and unafraid to discard what is not working, refine what should be working and come up with new strategies and systems to make our nation great again.
We must also realise that change begins with me as it does with you, dear reader. You cannot throw dirt out of the window of a moving vehicle while you complain that the nation is dirty and the government is at fault. We must look inwards and, individually, change those personal attitudes and behaviours that are wrong. A bad leader was a bad person before he became a leader; we must improve individually to improve as a nation. In this game, there are multiple balls, and it is everyone’s court.
Roller Coaster is a story of hope, grace and grit. We do not choose our challenges; we can only choose our reactions. Life will always happen in the most unexpected ways, but the real deal is how we handle it. This book is not only for people going through renal failure but for anyone who finds themselves in one bind or the other. You learn that not everyone has it better than you and that you can pull through, however bleak the situation looks. Make your lemonade out of your lemon.
What do you think about Worital?
I was introduced to Worital by Coach Sam Obafemi of the Sam Obafemi Behavioural Change Academy (SOBCA), and working with them has been a fantastic experience. I was particularly impressed by their finesse, promptness and expertise. They do not only publish your book but also take a personal interest in your sales, helping you to advertise your work on selected platforms, both locally and internationally. Worital is a great publishing company. The CEO, Fola Folagbade, is highly humane, and the staff are very cordial and caring yet, professional. I would choose them over and over again.