Can­cer-stricken tod­dler strug­gles for her sur­vival


Gulf News - - Nation - BY SAMIHAH ZAMAN Staff Re­porter

Hajirah needs a bone-mar­row trans­plant as soon as pos­si­ble. If the pro­ce­dure is suc­cess­ful, she has a 70 per cent chance of sur­vival. But with­out it, she has no chance at all.”

Hajirah Fa­rooq is her par­ents’ pride and joy, and their only daugh­ter after two sons. But her short life of 18 months has been plagued by ill­ness, in­clud­ing in­fan­tile leukaemia.

“Our dar­ling daugh­ter was born with­out any com­pli­ca­tions, but ever since her first fever, things have got­ten worse and worse. She has been di­ag­nosed with can­cer, and even chemo­ther­apy hasn’t helped fight it,” Mo­ham­mad Fa­rooq, 38, an ad­min ex­ec­u­tive from Pak­istan, told Gulf News.

Now, with­out a bone-mar­row trans­plant, she has no chance for sur­vival, said Dr Thana An­sari, pae­di­atric haema­tol­ogy on­col­ogy spe­cial­ist at Abu Dhabi pub­lic hos­pi­tal, the Shaikh Khal­ifa Med­i­cal City (SKMC). The pro­ce­dure, which is not avail­able in the UAE, will cost about Dh106,000 if per­formed in Pak­istan.

“But with my lim­ited salary of Dh7,000, and two older boys and a wife to pro­vide for, I have no way to meet this cost. How can I save my girl’s life,” Fa­rooq said. Things didn’t al­ways seem so dire how­ever.

In fact, Hajirah was born a healthy three kilo­grams in May 2017 after an un­com­pli­cated preg­nancy and de­liv­ery, and her par­ents spent a whole month with­out any wor­ries. Then, at the age of a mon­t­hand-a-half, she de­vel­oped a sud­den fever that had to be treated with an­tibi­otics.

A few days later, she ex­pe­ri­enced a seizure, and her par­ents rushed her to the emer­gency room of a pub­lic hos­pi­tal. Tests fol­lowed, and they were then urged to visit spe­cial­ists at the SKMC.

Dr Thana An­sari | Pae­di­atric haema­tol­ogy on­col­ogy spe­cial­ist


The lit­tle girl was fi­nally di­ag­nosed with leukaemia in Septem­ber 2017. Chemo­ther­apy was pre­scribed, but her par­ents were un­able to com­plete the en­tire treat­ment pro­to­col after Oc­to­ber.

By De­cem­ber, Hajirah was sick again, and had to be hos­pi­talised: her can­cer had re­turned. A stronger dose of chemo­ther­apy was pre­scribed again and her can­cer seemed to go into re­mis­sion after a while. Then, at the be­gin­ning of last month, doc­tors once again found a le­sion on her skull. Fur­ther tests re­vealed that the can­cer was back, Dr An­sari said.

“Hajirah needs a bone­mar­row trans­plant as soon as pos­si­ble. If the pro­ce­dure is suc­cess­ful, she has a 70 per cent chance of sur­vival. But with­out it, she has no chance at all,” the doc­tor said. She added that Hajirah’s white blood cell count is al­ready very low, and even a sim­ple ill­ness can af­fect her gravely be­cause of her weak­ened im­mune sys­tem.

De­spite the sit­u­a­tion, Fa­rooq does not know what to do.

“I don’t make enough to be able to af­ford her surgery. But all I want is for her to feel bet­ter. If only this could some­how be made pos­si­ble for us,” the wor­ried fa­ther said.

The fam­ily is yet to find a donor for the trans­plant, and is also check­ing with var­i­ous hos­pi­tals in Pak­istan to see where the surgery can be per­formed.

“I would be in­fin­itely grate­ful if the gen­er­ous peo­ple of the UAE would help save my daugh­ter’s life,” Fa­rooq added.

Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Mo­ham­mad Fa­rooq car­ries 18-month-old Hajirah as his son Da­wood and wife Habeeba look on. Mo­ham­mad is seek­ing help from res­i­dents to save his daugh­ter.

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