Fifteen month-old Anvi needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant, but her parents, Ruchita and Rupesh Pednekar, are struggling to put together the 15 lakh required for the procedure. This, after the couple from Kandivali already lost their first daughter, 18 month-old Sanika, in 2008.
At the time, they combined all their savings and even took a loan to treat her for Bilateral Urethral Reflux (she would pass blood in urine) but she could not be saved and died on March 13, 2008. The shock of that loss meant that 31 year-old Ruchita, who was three months pregnant, miscarried. Today, the couple owe Rs 5 lakh to various people, but are in no position to repay them as they are hoping for a miracle to save their third child.
Ruchita and 36 year-old Rupesh had a love marriage in 2003. When faced with the ordeal of saving Sanika’s life, Ruchita gave up her job as a team leader in a private company and her husband Rupesh, who was working in the same company, took up freelance marketing work.
Sanika underwent nine surgeries within 10 months of her birth and was hardly ever brought home. Ruchita says, “I was three months pregnant when I was informed that Sanika passed away and I went into shock. Two days later, I had a miscarriage. In addition to the grief, we were finding it difficult to convince lenders who would visit asking us to repay their money.”
Once bitten twice shy when Ruchita got pregnant with Anvi in 2007, she took good care of herself and underwent all tests as advised by her gynecologists as hers was a high risk pregnancy. Anvi was born on June 26, 2011. However, tragedy struck once again when Anvi, at three months, was diagnosed with Myelofibrosis (disorder of bone marrow).
“We took her to a local child specialist in Kandivali to treat her fever and cold. After various tests we found that her haemoglobin level was 9.2, which according to the doctor was normal for a baby at that age. However, even after taking antibiotics, there was no improvement and she was then taken to Dr Fazal Nabi at Jaslok Hospital, who pointed out that Anvi was pale and asked her to undergo another CBC (Complete Blood Count test). This time, her haemoglobin level was as low as 4.1. After a series of tests conducted at Bombay Hospital, doctors advised replacement of bone marrow, a surgery which will cost over Rs 15 lakh.”
“We have gone through a lot personally. But we have faith in the doctors and are sure Anvi will be with us forever,” said an emotional Rupesh, who does not even have a fixed source of income. Dr Fazal Nabi, pediatrician and intensivist at Jaslok Hospital said, “Anvi is not responding to the medicines and steroid treatment we administered.
Since the cells are not producing enough RBC, her required haemoglobin level is not being maintained and she requires a blood transfusion once every six weeks. The only option available is to perform a bone marrow transplant. Regular blood transfusions also increase chances of an infection. The success of bone marrow transplant across the world is around 40 to 55 per cent.”