We’re from Jalgaon – which is 7 hours away from Mumbai – and my husband Nafeez sells water bottles at the train station there, earning just around Rs. 150 every day. Fatima had lost her eyesight last year, her left eye never shuts, even when she sleeps. But she was slowly recovering. However, just 10 days ago, Fatima started vomiting and started getting severe fits. Her fingers and toes would just curl up and she wouldn’t speak, walk or respond to anything. We had to rush her to Mumbai and only we know how we’ve spent those 7 hours! She became very critical on the train. She got fits every 5 minutes, her eyes started rolling up and she started frothing too. We have never cried so much in 1 day. Her left eye never shuts, even when she sleeps.
Fathima was a happy, playful, energetic and strong child who never cried. In January 2018, she started complaining because her head was not only hurting but something was vibrating inside. After an MRI, I was in tears when we were told that the fluid in her brain (cerebrospinal fluid) was infected. The doctors in Jalgaon couldn’t treat her so we got her to Mumbai. Her head was swelling up every day and her eyes got so swollen up that she lost her eyesight. This was the most horrifying thing I have ever witnessed as a mother.
It was February 2018 and suddenly, in Mumbai, one day she got so weak and pale that she didn’t even have the energy to stand on her legs. She was extremely critical and was put in the ICU for a couple of days. Thanks to god, she lived on but she had absolutely no energy. There was also a tube inserted into her brain from her nose (VP Shunt) to help reduce the swelling. By now, she had completely lost her eyesight too. When she was finally discharged in March, she was still so weak. She needed physiotherapy twice every week. In Jalgaon, we would end up paying a total of Rs. 600 every session and this went on for the rest of the year.
Every month in 2018, we would also have to make the long journey to Mumbai for routine check-ups – which would also cost us around Rs. 2500 on average with traveling. We spent the rest of the year like this. With physiotherapy, Fatima got better and started to walk again and go to the toilet on her own. She needed to have around 8-10 medicines daily. My baby is so strong – not once has she told me that “Mom, I can’t see anymore.” She has never cried too. Every Eid, she likes to put mehendi on her hands and wear colourful clothes. Last year, even though she couldn’t see, she still wanted to wear good clothes and put mehendi and wanted to feel the happiness of the occasion.
Right now, the bill for spending 10 days in the ICU has been over Rs. 2.2 lakhs. The infection to her brain fluids hasn’t left Fatima and still might need another operation but she has to stay in the ICU for at least 4 weeks. It could even be 2 months. Last year, we already borrowed Rs. 2 lakhs from Nafeez’s brother – who had to sell his bike to help us. We have a very small home in Jalgaon and nothing left to sell. We have been running around for help all over the city. We barely eat anything here too. We need all the help we can get to save our daughter and you are our last resort.” – Yasmeen, Fatima’s mother
Yasmeen and Nafeez waiting outside the ICU
Within a year, Fatima has fought death for a second time. Her mother, Yasmeen and father, Nafeez – a poor water bottle seller, are still in shock and spend the days in the hospital with hopes to take their daughter home. All they want to do is help her live and see her go to a special school soon. They desperately need your help to save 5-year-old Fatima.