Covid ‘snatched’ mental health nurse before he could use ‘dream’ qualification

Edd Dracott, PA

An NHS worker from Manchester died with Covid-19 months after achieving his dream to become a registered mental health nurse, but never got to work a single day with his qualification.

Father-of-four Oronsaye Okhomina, also known as Jeff or Orons, died aged 56 on February 11 after the sudden onset of Covid in early January had put him into an induced coma at North Manchester General Hospital.

After trading in a career in IT and almost 10 years working as a student nurse and mental health support worker, he took his final qualifications to become a registered mental health nurse in December 2020.

Waiting to start work with Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust as a qualified nurse, the final results for Mr Okhomina’s exams and his Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) PIN were released in January – whilst he was in a coma.

“If there was one thing Oronsaye looked forward to, it was the day he will start working as a qualified nurse,” Mr Okhomina’s wife, Esther Okhomina, told the PA news agency.

“But after he had fulfilled all the requirements and received his final results… which he worked so hard for with all his strength and will… he never had the opportunity to practice as a qualified nurse for even one day.

“The cold hands of death snatched him away from us all.

“He was my everything, without him I felt breathless, my solid rock, always standing by through thick and thin, always my source of inspiration, my God on earth.

Born in Benin City, Nigeria, Mr Okhomina moved to the Netherlands in 1990 before arriving in the UK in 2005.

In Britain, he earned a degree in Information Technology Management and then a masters in Industrial Technology at the University of Bradford, but traded in a career in the industry to help mental health patients.

He is survived by his wife and four children – Eseh Okhomina, 22, Owen Okhomina, 18, Joshua Okhomina, four, and two-year-old Jayden Okhomina.

Mr Okhomina has been described as a ‘fallen hero’ by his friends (Family handout)
Mr Okhomina has been described as a ‘fallen hero’ by his friends (Family handout)

Babajide Lawal-Shekoni, who knew Mr Okhomina for 16 years, has created a fundraising page in his close friend’s honour to help his family with financial support – which has so far raised more than £2,800.

“I think I was one of the last people he spoke with before he was taken to the hospital,” Mr Lawal-Shekoni, 41, told PA.

“We would always check up on each other every few days. If I’m down he’d pick me up… I know he was that kind of person to a lot of people as well.

“He said ‘I’m not feeling too well’ so I told him to call the ambulance, and that was it… there was no time.”

Asked how Mr Okhomina should be remembered, Mr Lawal-Shekoni said: “He was always willing to help everybody, even when he didn’t have anything.

“He was a fun person – there was never a dull moment – a bubbly character. I miss him a lot.”

Mr Lawal-Shekoni, a civil and structural engineer, said “fallen heroes” of the NHS such as his friend Mr Okhomina should be honoured through plaques and similar tributes following the pandemic.

If you would like to donate to Mr Okhomina’s family, go to www.gofundme.com/oronsaye-jeff-funeral

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