Sometimes even Rs 3 lakh is not enough to save a child's life. Following MiD DAY’s report on the condition of 14-month-old Madiha Sheikh who needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant, her parents received Rs 3 lakh from several readers across the country who came forward to help the infant. However, Madiha’s future is now looking bleak despite all the help.
Tests conducted in the city determined that Madiha’s bone marrow does not match with her parents and doctors say a foreign donor will have to be sought, for which the price of the procedure will go up to a whopping Rs 40 lakh. “The results of the test were out on Saturday and it heralded bad news. After MiD DAY wrote about our daughter, readers were kind enough to donate Rs 3 lakh. We are now using those funds to pay for her regular blood and platelet transfusions,” said Shahista, the girl’s mother.
Doctors say that if the girl does not undergo a transplant in the next one or two months, she is at a risk of losing sight and hearing due to osteoporosis, a rare disorder that leads to abnormally dense skull bones which, in turn, pinch nerves in the head and face resulting in vision and hearing loss.
For the past few weeks, Madiha underwent blood and platelet transfusions every four days to maintain her haemoglobin levels. Her platelet count has now dropped to 31,000 while doctors say that the normal platelet count for her age is at least 74,000 in a micro litre of blood. “We were informed that in order to even start looking for a match for the bone marrow transplant, we will have to cough up at least Rs 40 lakh which is impossible for us,” added an emotional Shahista, whose husband is a tempo driver. Madiha is currently undergoing treatment at Byculla’s Masina hospital where the bills run up to at least Rs 30,000 each time she gets admitted.
Dr Kannan Subramanian, consultant hematologist at Pune’s Sahyadri hospital where the parents had gone for consultation, said, “It is very sad that the child’s bone marrow did not match with either of her parents. I advised them against donating their bone marrow as they’re only half a match due to which the success rate of the transplant would not be above 25 per cent.”
“In the case of an unrelated matched donor, the cost, which is anywhere between Rs 35 to 40 lakh is the limiting factor. Also, the child has only two months to undergo the transplant and find a donor. It will take at least six to eight weeks if she is lucky,” added Dr Subramanian. He further added that while treating children with osteopetrosis, which affects bone density and the nerve system, the chances of the transplant being a success with an unrelated donor is about 50 to 60 per cent.
“In the case of thalassemic patients, parents have managed to raise lakhs of rupees for an unrelated donor as time is not a limiting factor. Such patients can undergo a bone marrow transplant even a year or two later. Unfortunately, time andmoney are two major factors working against Madiha,” explained Dr Subramanian.
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