“We were such a happy family before Srilaxmi became sick. I used to feel like the luckiest man in the world – my wife Sailaja and two daughters, Vijayalaxmi and Srilaxmi - were the centre of my word. They still are, but instead of happiness, our lives revolve around pain and fear now.” –Jagadish Borra, Srilaxmi’s father.
5-year-old Srilaxmi Borra loved playing with the kids in her building as soon as she came home back from school. But today she is away from home. She neither has friends to play with nor does she go to school. A rare blood disorder has made it difficult for her to even take a step without feeling tired and worn out.
Srilaxmi was excited about being in first grade when she got a fever that turned out to be something sinisterThe academic year had just begun and in her own words, Srilaxmi had ‘become a big girl.’ She had told everybody in her building that she would be getting new books and stationery items. But that never happened as she was advised to stop going to school to avoid infections. Her platelet count dipped so much that she had to leave her hometown in Hyderabad to come to Bengaluru for treatment. Her bone marrow is almost dysfunctional now and she needs a bone marrow transplant at the earliest, or she will not survive.
“She was a healthy child until she reached 5 years of age. She would get fevers regularly, and tests could not ascertain the real cause for a long time. At one point, I thought it was a lack of nutrition that was making her so weak; I started adding more vegetables, fruits and fibre into her diet. But nothing worked – her haemoglobin and platelet counts were always low. She would get sick and miss school often. After many tests, it was a DNA analysis that diagnosed the genetic blood disorder. It was so unexpected. I would have received this news better if there were similar cases in our family. But there are none. It was quite a shock and we still cannot believe it,” adds Jagadish.
Srilaxmi is prone to all types of illnesses because of her disorder
“Anything can happen to Srilaxmi because of her low blood count, including a complete and irreversible failure of the bone marrow. She is also susceptible to carcinomas. It will start with a fever or an infection, but has the potential of completely damaging her system. We need to get her a bone marrow transplant or it will be too late,” shares her father Jagadish.
‘We cannot afford to lose both our children’When Srilaxmi was diagnosed with the disorder, her eight-year-old sister Vijayalaxmi had to undergo some tests to see if she was a donor match for the bone marrow transplant. Sadly, that is when Vijayalaxmi too was diagnosed with the same disease.
“My wife and I were just coming to terms with what was happening to our younger child when the doctors told us that our elder one too has the same life-threatening disease. Since Vijayalaxmi’s blood levels are much better than her sister’s, we are focusing only on Srilaxmi now. But Vijaya will have to get the same treatment in the future,” says Jagadish.
Srilaxmi pines to go back to her hometown and play with her sisterVijayalaxmi and Srilaxmi were inseperable before their parents had to take the younger sister to Bengaluru for treatment. Playing ‘teacher-student’ was their most favourite thing to do together. Srilaxmi misses all the good times so badly that she cries on the phone with her sister.
“Srilaxmi is open with her feelings. She tells us that she does not feel good staying away from her sister and that she wants to go back. But Vijayalaxmi is a quiet child. She is staying with a relative in Hyderabad now and I know she misses us, but my poor child is not even able to express her anguish properly,” says Jagadish, with tears in his eyes.
‘Why did this happen to us?’Srilaxmi’s mother Sailaja cannot stop asking her husband why such bad times have befallen on her family.
Jagadish says, “In the beginning, she only used to cry and not speak anything. Now she keeps asking me what we did to deserve this much pain. I keep telling her that this life, and we must face it. Crying will not solve anything, we have to get our daughter treated at any cost. We will do anything it takes to make sure that she is healthy again.”
How you can helpJagadish Borra works in the R&D department of a Hyderabad-based company, and had sufficient savings until things spiralled out of control.
“I was saving up for bad times and providing the best of everything to my family, but our children’s condition has come as a shock to me. I was never expecting this. When the doctors told me that Srilaxmi’s treatment alone will cost Rs 44 lakh, I was taken aback. I have agreed to be the donor but how will I make that much money in such a short period of time? It is impossible. I hope nothing bad happens before we arrange the funds,” he laments.
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