“My daughter has never gone to school because of weakness and breathlessness since birth. We couldn’t understand it was because of a heart problem until she started complaining of chest pain a year back. My poor child has always been depending on me for everything - I am her whole world. She tells me ‘Ammi, I want to get better so that I can take care of you like you have taken care of me all these years’ , but I don't have the money to save her.”-Saira Bano, mother of 18-year-old Rubi.
Rubi has a severe heart defect which has compromised the amount of oxygen in her body, making her breathlessRubi has a condition called mitral stenosis. In a normal heart, oxygenated blood from the lungs flows from the left upper chamber of the heart through the mitral valve into the left lower chamber, where it is then picked up by the main artery for circulation in the body. In Rubi’s case, this valve has a narrowing – which means that not enough blood can pass through it, leading to dangerously low oxygen levels.
“We didn’t understand a word the doctor said about her condition, but we could understand from his tone that it is a serious problem. Rubi’s heart beats very rapidly now – I can feel the abnormal fluttering when I place my hand over her heart. My poor child’s face is so peaceful at all times, who can say that her heart is slowly failing her?”- Saira Bano.
Rubi longs to be of some help to her poor parents one day, but she is too weak to even walk on most days
Even though she always had dreams of going to school in smart uniforms like her neighbors, Rubi could never study because she was not putting on weight or growing normally like her peers. The unassuming parents just believed that she was a ‘slow’ girl and let her stay back at their mud house in their small village in Uttar Pradesh. Whenever she tried to do small chores at home, her weakness would pull her back. She has been living like a recluse for most of her life because of her bad heart - she could never play with siblings as she wished or even laugh too much because of persistent breathlessness.
“She was fairly okay until last year when she started getting severe chest pain. She would whimper in distress and even run out of breath. She has even lost consciousness on many occasions. That is when we borrowed money and took her to Delhi. The doctors have said that she needs a surgery urgently, but the costs for it are unimaginable for dirt-poor people like us. We don’t know what to do.”-Saira Bano.
Rubi’s father is a farm worker who hardly comes home, making things even more difficult for her mother
Saira Bano is left to manage the household alone as her husband, Sajid, is mostly away for work. He works as a help at a farm and cannot come home every day. Saira has to take care of her six children all by herself. Rubi’s health was already a matter of grave concern for this family but recently, her sibling 14-year-old Retab was diagnosed with a breathing problem that has left them in deep despair. They don’t have money to pay for both children’s treatment as Sajid only earns Rs 3,000 a month.
“On some days, there won’t even be food for all of us to eat, how can we afford to take them to the doctor? Still we begged and borrowed and took Rubi to Delhi. But her surgery is something that we cannot pay for in this lifetime. We need help – please help us save our daughter before it gets too late.”-Saira Bano, with tears in her eyes.
How you can helpRubi has a severe heart condition that is suffocating her and making her collapse. She will never be able to breathe properly or live a fulfilled life without an urgent heart surgery.
Her poor parents do not have the means to afford the travel fare to the hospital, let alone the surgery. They are scrambling to arrange money and need your help.