Thalassemia patients appeal for financial assistance

Courtesy by: Daily Times

By Zakir Hassnain

PESHAWAR: With her eyes filled with tears, 11-year-old Fatima, a thalassemia patient, said her elder sister Samina was also a thalassemia patient and died of the same disease, leaving sweet memories behind with the family remembers.

Fatima and her younger sister Aiman came to Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday along with their parents to create awareness among people about this lethal disease and appealed to the provincial government to give financial assistance to Hamza Foundation she was getting treatment from.

A sizeable number of children and their parents who assembled at the press club, also appealed to donor organisations and philanthropists to come forward and save lives of thousands of children suffering from thalassemia.

“Samina died two months ago of thalassemia when she was 18,” Fatima told Daily Times with tears trickling down her cheeks. Fatima, a class 5 student, said Samina had done a nursing course and was voluntarily working for Hamza Foundation. “We all miss her,” she said sobbing.

Wakil Jan, father of Shah Masood, 6, and Hamaad Khan,3, said Masood and Hamaad were thalassemia patients by birth. “I bring them to Peshawar from village after every 2/3 weeks for blood transfusion,” he said.

Muhammad Wali Khan, a father who had come from Malakand, said his wife was his cousin and that was possibly the reason that Haizar Ali, 9 months, and Haizar’s two sisters Anita and Shawaal were thalassemia patients.

“Blood transfusion takes place every 15/20 days at the Foundation in Peshawar,” he said. Wali said if the Hamza Foundation ran out of funds and it closed down, the lives of their children could be in danger.

Thalassemia is a killer disease in which a child suffering from it cannot survive unless he gets blood transfusion after every 15/20 days.

According to an estimate, around 5,000 children are born with thalassemia in Pakistan, mostly in the NWFP.

Ali Gul, who was representing parents and whose two sons were thalassemia patients, said Hamza Foundation was the only welfare organisation in the province that was looking after these unfortunate children. “The Foundation is getting no financial support from the government and is running on donations,” said Gul. Gul who also works for the Foundation, said the Foundation had 525 registered patients and was spending around Rs 400,000 to 500,000 per month on their blood transfusion and other expenditures.

“We, the parents of children, are here today to draw the attention of the government, donor organisations and philanthropists that if the Foundation closes down because of lack of funds or any other reason, our children will die,” said Ali Gul.

Quite a lot of mothers in burqas were present in the press club hall. Some were holding their newborn babies suffering from the deadly disease. Small children holding placards inscribed with slogans of financial assistance posed for photojournalists and the electronic media.

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