Generous donations raised through crowd funding helped the family of a ten year old girl of northern Kashmir district of Bandipora to save her life. After Fatima was diagnosed with the liver failure following detection of jaundice, her distressed father was short of money to donate his liver. But some philanthropists gave her a new life providing the money for the treatment.
It was in April 2018 that the girl from north Kashmir was diagnosed with jaundice in a school health camp. The family would have never thought they would be forced to go outside for treatment. Initially her father Syed Hussain took her to Srinagar hospitals for treatment. But the ailment took an ugly turn, as she looked pot bellied after diagnosed with a rare liver disease—autoimmune hepatitis—needing a transplant.
Since there is no liver transplant facility in J&K, the family was upset. But despite financial problems, they managed to take her outside the state for treatment.
“We had no money for her transplant surgery. Though, few relatives and friends supported and raised funds for her but it was sufficient only for our local stay expenses and post-transplant medications in Delhi,” said Hussain, a laborer.
But to Fatima’s fortune, the family had a known friend at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals who suggested them to take her there for a liver transplant. Her liver had already shrunk and she remained chronically ill and a transplant was the only option left to save her life.
“For a liver transplant, we needed around rupees 18 lakh which we were not able to afford. Few days before the surgery the doctors started raising the money through crowd funding,” Hussain said.
Within days ailing Fatima got donations from around the world. The donations were sufficient for treatment and the girl underwent the 12-hour-long surgery in June last year after her 48-year-old father donated a part of his liver to save her.
Funds for surgery had been sourced through social media while the Apollo hospital and doctors waived off fees to make surgery possible.
The minor girl, now a 7th standard student was suffering from the rare liver disease which affects about one in two lakh people. She was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis which could have been fatal if not treated in time.
Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director and Senior Consultant, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Apollo Hospitals, said the patient was found to have jaundice in school.
“The patient was admitted to a hospital in Srinagar for four months with prolonged hospitalizations thrice but her condition continued to deteriorate with time. After evaluation, she was diagnosed with a chronic liver disease that had resulted in liver failure and we did her surgery immediately,” he said.
About Fatimah’s surgery, Dr Neerav Goyal, Senior Consultant, Liver Transplant and Haepatobiliary, of Pancreatic Surgery Department, said fluid had accumulated in her belly and pressure in blood vessels supplying the liver was high.
“Her liver had already shrunken and despite therapy bringing about some improvement, the fluid accumulation in her stomach persisted. She remained chronically ill and a new liver was the only option left to save her life.”
“Considering her critical condition, we decided to perform the liver transplant surgery on her. Patient’s father became her liver donor. We performed the 12-hour long surgery and all her liver function tests are normal now,” he said.
Talking about the causes and symptoms of the disease Goyal said there is no particular cause of this disease adding genetic and environmental factors seem to trigger it.
He said the signs and symptoms of the disease can range from minor to severe and may come on suddenly.
“Common symptoms that one may experience are abdominal discomfort, fatigue, yellowing of the skin, enlarged liver, abnormal blood vessels on the skin, joint pains and loss of menstruation in women,” said Goyal.
The family thanked Apollo Hospitals and its doctors who did not charge a single rupee for this surgery and operated their daughter successfully
“Our little Fatimah got a second life, all because of expert and noble-hearted doctors at Apollo Hospital and the support of friends and relatives”, said Hussain.
At her village in Sumbal area Bandipora, Fatimah, who did not go to school in 2018 due to ailment, now participate in all activities.
“I am now full of energy. I attend school regularly and participate in all activities,” she said.