Woman travels to India alone for treatment of thalassemic baby

Woman travels to India alone for treatment of thalassemic baby

Woman travels to India alone for treatment of thalassemic baby

She travelled from one country to another alone for treatment of her three-month old daughter, a thalassemic patient, a decision for which her husband and in-laws abandoned her.

Mamata Yasmin, a housewife and resident of Bangladesh's capital Dhaka visited Kolkata alone with her daughter Aamira (name changed) when doctors recommended her a "better treatment" across the border.

"Aamira was only three-month old when she was detected to be thalassemic. Doctors told us that she can be treated but we should not be impatient," Yasmin told PTI.

"My husband and in-laws told me that there was no point in watering a dead plant and I must not press them for treating Aamira," the 30-year-old mother said.

Determined to cure her daughter, Mamata returned to her father's house who promised to help her financially.

"My father sold his land and other belongings and gave me a few lakh rupees for Aamira's treatment and I arrived here in India in 2012," Mamata said.

Alone in the city with nobody to help her, Mamata rented a room at Rajarhat and started taking Aamira, now a four-year-old, to a renowned medical facility where expenses hit the roof.

"Blood transfusions and iron chelations were becoming quite painful when I heard about the bone marrow treatment which can treat thalassemia completely. But that was expensive... Then I decided to give it a try at Apollo Gleneagles Hospital.

The doctors at the hospital decided to undertake bone marrow transplant, the only known cure for thalassemia, to address the situation.

"Aamira's eight-year-old elder brother was identified as a perfect HLA match and was prepared for the transplant," Haemato-Oncologist and specialist in bone marrow transplantation Dr Shilpa Bhartia said.   

The process started with Aamira receiving high dose of chemotherapy intended to clear her bone marrow and immune system and prepare her for accepting her brother's marrow.

"We started the process in November. Her brother's bone marrow was collected from the hipbone and transfused to Aamira in the BMT room. Then we waited as Aamira continued to run a very high risk of infections for the next two weeks till her brother's stem cells settled in her bone marrow space and started making new cells," Dr Bhartia said.

During these two weeks, Aamira was kept in a special isolation room with advanced air filters, and was given a specially prepared diet to prevent infections.

"In just over 10 days, there were signs of new healthy cells appearing in her blood, and there was no rejection or graft versus host disease. She was allowed to go home after three weeks, completely cured of her conditions.

"Six months down the line, Aamira remains well and transfusion-free, enjoying her childhood the way it should be," Dr Bhartia said terming the successful transplant as a "victory of the mother".

On chances of Aamira falling ill again, Dr Bhartia said, "chances are quite slim, five per cent. But I am quite hopeful that Aamira will be able to lead a normal life and grow up as a beautiful lady."

A seemingly elated Mamata said, "Now that I have won one of the toughest battles of my life curing my daughter, I will try my best to make her a great human being, strong enough to face life's challenge single-handedly."