Ailing Pakistani girl gets outpouring of support in Mumbai
Despite the political friction between India and Pakistan, an ailing young Pakistani girl who arrived from Karachi on Monday for treatment here has stirred up the emotions of Mumbaikars who want to ensure she gets well soon.
Several people have rallied around 15-year-old Saba Ahmad who is suffering from a rare genetic condition called Wilson’s disease and is required to stay at the hospital for at least two months for treatment.
Donations have been coming forward towards the Rs. 1 million quoted by Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre where she has been admitted under the care Dr. Aabha Nagral, gastroenterologist and liver specialist.
Wilson’s disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes excess copper to accumulate in the liver, brain and other vital organs, with the symptoms typically beginning between the ages of 12 and 23. Normally, copper is absorbed from food and any excess is excreted through bile — a substance produced in the liver.
But in people with Wilson’s disease, copper isn’t eliminated properly and instead accumulates, possibly to a life-threatening level. If diagnosed early, it is treatable.
De Nagral said that treatment for Saba has already started and that the teenager would need lifelong medication. A drug that is regularly used to treat Wilson’s disease has not worked for Saba and therefore the treatment may require another medicine, possibly imported from abroad.
The patient also needs supportive treatment in the form of physiotherapy and speech therapy, she said.
Dr. Nagral has already treated more than 150 children suffering from this disease.
A Mumbai-based NGO, Bluebells Community, came forward to help her when she was here for treatment in April.
Shabia Walia, the founder of this organisation, says she went to meet Saba and her mother, Nazia, who is single with two more kids back in Pakistan. “There began a relationship of a lifetime. Through our community we raised Rs. 700,000 for her (along with media who helped raise awareness about her and got donors) and paid all her bills for the one and a half months she was in Jaslok.” Various news channels covered the story as a heart-warming story of humanity transcending borders.
Unfortunately, after Saba went back to Pakistan, her condition deteriorated significantly and had to be brought back to India. The girl who has come to love India is presently bedridden and cannot speak or swallow food.
The NGO arranged for her travel through a donor, made an initial deposit, which it had collected through online crowdfunding, at the hospital but now needs more funds to cover the entire expense. So far, the collection has been Rs. 294,205 from 102 contributions, with the target of collecting Rs one million and the final goal being to make Saba eventually stand on her own feet. The NGO says that all bills of the hospital will be provided to donors.
Walia also added, “We believe that giving is receiving and we need big hearts to give, not deep pockets.
“We want a young life to be saved and also pass the message that borders might divide people but love unites them. A child on either side of the border deserves the right to live, irrespective of which country he/she is being treated in.”
Source: Gulf News