Zainab had a strong reaction to the drug, an emotional one: she became so irritable and aggressive that the nurses as well as her parents imagined a spirit had possessed her! She was continuously crying and refused to eat. Her mother was worrying herself sick, but nonetheless courageously asked the doctors to continue preparing for the transplant that could cure her daughter of thalassemia.
Zainab is now three years, eight months, and five days old, and her parents count every single day of her life as an accomplishment.
The nurses at the Cure2Children STOPThalassemia cure and prevention unit in Islamabad note little Zainab for her innate wisdom – not a common description of a three year old girl, but Zainab has been through more than most her age.
By one month and twenty-two days after her birth, Zainab was already dependent on bi-weekly blood transfusions for her survival. Zainab’s soft-spoken and committed parents brought her to the local hospital for her transfusions every two weeks for three years. Due to the frequency and quantity of blood little Zainab was receiving she was at risk for receiving blood infected with hepatitis C. Unfortunately, she did contract this disease.
It was at this point that her proactive mom, Saima (age 30), sought out advice from the Cure2Children STOPThalassemia unit, just next to the blood transfusion unit at the local hospital. If Saima could work with Cure2Children’s nurses and improve little Zainab’s health, she could qualify for a bone marrow transplantation that could cure her from thalassemia. Once cured, Zainab would never need another blood transfusion again for the rest of her life.
Saima and Dilnawaz (Zainab’s 34 year old dad) agreed to admit their daughter into the Cure2Children (C2C) STOPThalassemia cure and prevention unit. Zainab quickly became healthy enough to qualify for a bone marrow transplant, and was lucky enough to have an older brother that could serve as her bone marrow donor.
To prepare Zainab for transplant the C2C nurses gave her high doses of busulfan, a chemotherapy drug given before bone marrow transplant to suppress the patient’s immune system and decrease chances of rejection. However, Zainab had a strong reaction to the drug, an emotional one: she became so irritable and aggressive that the nurses as well as her parents imagined a spirit had possessed her! She was continuously crying and refused to eat. Her mother was worrying herself sick, but nonetheless courageously asked the doctors to continue preparing for the transplant that could cure her daughter of thalassemia.
During her bone marrow transplantation Zainab and her family faced yet another hurdle: Zainab developed a very high fever and diarrhea that would not subside. She remained at the Cure2Children unit for five weeks after transplant and, finally, there was more than just a silver-lining. Zainab’s body was now using the new bone marrow as her own. Zainab no longer had to have bi-weekly blood transfusions. Zainab no longer had thalassemia. Zainab is cured, and her mom is elated.
If the Cure2Children STOPThalassemia cure and prevention bone marrow transplant unit was never established in Islamabad, parents like Zaima and Dilnawaz would still be taking their sick children for biweekly blood transfusions. Without this Cure2Children STOPThalassemia unit, little Zainab would have to have transfusions for the rest of her life, increasing her risk of acquiring other blood maladies. However thanks to the presence of the Cure2Children unit and bone marrow transplantation, Zainab is cured and will spend the rest of her life living like a normal child.
Help Cure2Children open up more cure and prevention units in other areas with high prevalence of thalassemia, sickle-cell anemia, aplastic anemia, and leukemia. Cure2Children trains local staff to apply local and affordable solutions.