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How Scarcity Drove this African Woman to Found West Africa’s First Air Ambulance Service

Dr. Ola Orekunrin is a therapeutic specialist, helicopter pilot, and a healthcare entrepreneur founder. She established Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first Air Ambulance Service in 2007. The air rescue vehicle service situated in Lagos is committed to conveying medical service to remote parts of Western Africa.

She was motivated to start the company after her younger sister died tragically while traveling in Nigeria. When her sister became very ill whilst staying with relatives in Nigeria, the local hospital was unable to manage her sickle cell anemia condition, and there was no air ambulance to transport her to a suitable medical facility.


The family searched from Nigeria, to Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cameroon, and across West Africa to no avail. When the family finally found an air ambulance in South Africa, 5 hours away, and arranged logistics, Orekunrin’s sister had died.

Orekunrin graduated as a medical doctor from the University Of York at 21, becoming the youngest medical doctor in the United Kingdom. She was originally born in London and grew up in a foster home with her sister in Lowestoft, south-east England.

Upon graduation, she was awarded the MEXT Japanese Government Scholarship where she studied clinic research in the field of regenerative medicine at the Jikei University Hospital. She then worked for ten years with the National Health Service, United Kingdom.

She currently resides in Lagos, Nigeria where she also works as a national disaster and pre-hospital care expert.


Written by How Africa

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