“Our Afreen is wise beyond her age. Growing up, she knew we weren’t well off and always said that she wanted to be successful so she could take care of us. Our once bright-eyed child has lost herself to this disease now. It has taken everything away from her - her smile, her dreams, even her determination. She holds herself together when we’re around. But at night, I hear her cry herself to sleep. She was supposed to get married soon… She was looking forward to it. Now, it seems like she’s lost all hope...”
- Yasmin, mother
Blisters and dark patches littered her skin, she suffers from a rare skin condition23-year-old Afreen Shaikh suffers from a rare skin disorder called Pemphigus Vulgaris, and she doesn’t know what cruel twist of fate brought her to this point in her life, where she is fighting to survive. Her condition has been fluctuating lately, leaning more towards being critical. The disease has caused so much discomfort to the young girl, that she can only consume liquids and even struggles to breathe, some days.
Pemphigus Vulgaris, is an autoimmune disorder that involves blistering and erosion of the skin and mucous membranes. The breakout began from her mouth and soon spread all over her body, making it difficult for her to perform even basic activities like bathing and eating.
“I had something like ulcers inside my mouth first, and I underwent treatment at a local clinic. It got better and they were practically gone. Until two months later, there were some black spots on the skin around my stomach. It was so painful and itchy. It spread all over my body - my skin was covered in dark patches and scratching it only made it worse. It blistered and bled so much… I lost a lot of blood.” - Afreen
Her helpless and poverty-stricken parents are devastated at her plight
“She is so disturbed by the whole thing. She looks at herself in the mirror and cries at her appearance now. Her patchy skin, the blisters and open wounds - she can’t stand the sight of herself. My beautiful daughter - her disease has taken away all of her confidence and self esteem. She often apologises to me for not being able to do anything for us, when she promised to give us a better life. It kills me to hear her say these things.” - Amin, father
Afreen was the only earning member of the family, but soon after being diagnosed, she lost her call center job. Her father, Amin, runs a business in a rented stall and barely earns enough to feed his family. But the past year hasn't been kind to them. Their shop suffered a significant dip during the pandemic-led lockdown, following which the family now struggles to choose between seeking treatment for Afreen or keeping their stomachs fed.
Knowing his brother lost his life to the same disease has fueled his fearsLiving in a rented house, her parents were baffled upon knowing that Afreen's treatment will cost them at least INR 10 lakh. They have spent 1.5 lakh rupees in the past 3 months alone. This huge amount was beyond Amin's capacity to afford, but with help from his relatives he was able to get his daughter's treatment started.
“My brother suffered from the same disease and fought bravely for years, until he succumbed to it 2 years ago. Back then, we didn’t know what it was and neither did we have any resources. But that’s not the case now. We know exactly what it is, and how she can get better, but the cure is out of my reach. This disease has already crushed her spirit entirely. I can’t lose her too..” - Amin
This family is helpless due to their current situation and looking to you for help. Afreen needs your kindness and support to recover. Your contributions can save her life.