"Doctors say she needs the transplant within a month or she will not survive. We cannot even rent a room in Visakhapatnam where the treatment is taking place because of our financial constraints. How will we afford her transplant?" - Shabnam, Suhana's mother.
She was even forced to sleep on the floor to get treatmentIt was in May 2021 that Suhana fell ill with high fever. She was taken to a local hospital in Bhubaneswar, where she was diagnosed with a blood infection. But Suhana's condition only got worse and her fever refused to subside. It was in the middle of the COVID pandemic, where hospitals were already at over-capacity. Left with no choice but to seek treatment for their ailing daughter, Suhana's desperate parents shuffled through several hospitals. But the little girl showed no improvement and her health only deteriorated further.
Our child had to sleep on the dirty floor opposite a toilet at the hospital because there were no beds available. She kept crying the whole night and could not sleep because her body already ached from all the injections. Sleeping on the cold, hard floor made everything worse. We could not watch her suffer but we were ready to go through anything, just so she could get her treatment and beat cancer. - Shabnam.
This auto driver sold his only means of livelihood, but it is not enoughCOVID-19 has been hard on everybody, and Sheikh Sakir Ali, Suhana's father is no exception. He used to earn a decent living as an auto driver but everything turned upside-down with the pandemic. After Suhana's diagnosis, he had been struggling to make ends meet and had to sell his auto-rickshaw - his only means of livelihood - to keep his daughter's treatment going.
"After I sold the auto, I was forced to take up manual labour. But since we travel most of the time and the pandemic situation keeps fluctuating, work has not been regular. Meeting day-to-day expenses for food and travel has been very hard. I do not know how I will manage to pay for the surgery that could save her life..." - Sheikh Sakir Ali
Suhana can live with your timely helpSuhana does not know many English words, except the ones that she recurrently hears in the cartoons she watches on her father's basic Android phone. However, she has heard the word 'cancer' several times, as she spends most of her time at the hospital. But, she is too tired to learn what it is or what it is doing to her.
On the other hand, her parents know the truth - cancer is slowly killing their innocent child and they have very little time to save her. She needs a bone marrow transplant within a month to live.
"When we travel with Suhana for treatment, we have to leave our 5-year-old son with the neighbours. Both our children are being deprived of a normal childhood and we are just helpless. Our relatives are only able to help us with Rs. 50 or Rs. 100 at best. How will that help?" - Sheikh Sakir Ali
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