Indians crowdfunded Rs. 13 lakh to finance this 15-year-old Pakistani girl’s treatment

In what could be a first, some Indians managed to contribute and crowdfund almost  as much as Rs 13 lakh to finance 15-year-old Saba Tariq Ahmed, a Karachi, Pakistan’s resident. The Times Of India reported that Saba was suffering from Wilson’s disease, a disorder that results in poisonous accumulation of copper in the body, at Jaslok hospital and needed the treatment for the same.

Jaslok hospital CEO Dr Taran Gainchandani said,

Saba and her mother, Nazia, boarded an afternoon flight for Karachi. They were extremely happy about how well the treatment worked for Saba.

Saba’s story is indeed special. Why, one may ask. Well, the reason is that Indian citizens reached out to help Saba financially twice between April and October. The first time was in April-May, when an NGO, Bluebells Community, raised Rs 7 lakh from Mumbaikars to help Saba. Dr Aabha Nagral, the liver specialist who has been treating her said,

But Saba did not respond too well to the regularly prescribed medicines for Wilson’s disease. Saba needed a change of medication, as well as physiotherapy to regain her movement.

Saba’s condition worsened in Karachi. That was when more Indians stepped in to help. Shabia Walia of Bluebells Community said,

When Saba’s condition started worsening on her return to Karachi in May, Nazia contacted me, seeking help. We spread Saba’s story so far and wide that we got an American NGO, Rachel and Drew Katz Foundation, contributing Rs 4 lakh and a London-based NGO promising free supply of medicines.

The online crowdfunding effort started on Independence Day to collect Rs 10 lakh for a three-month treatment with an alternative medication that is not freely available in India or Pakistan. When Bluebells Community volunteers received Saba with her mother Nazia at Mumbai airport on August 24, she was wheelchair-bound, could not speak and had tremors and abnormal involuntary movements due to the severity of the disease.

Dr Nagral said,

But we started her on physiotherapy as well as the alternative drug, Trientine (which helps remove copper accumulation from the body. Procuring the drug was not easy as it is not manufactured in India and 100 capsules cost Rs 84,000. Saba is on two capsules a day, but it should be stepped up to five soon. Saba is a fan of Salman Khan and wanted to meet him, so I took her to this theme restaurant that is inspired by the actor.

Nazia said she had been warned that things would not be smooth in India, and she was happy that her fears did not come true. She said Mumbai had been full of warmth and happiness for her and her daughter.

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