181208 Mohammad Farooq 3
Mohammad Farooq carries 18-month-old Hajirah as his son Dawood and wife Habeeba look on. Mohammad is seeking help from residents to save his daughter. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Hajirah Farooq is her parents’ pride and joy, and their only daughter after two sons. But her short life of 18 months has been plagued by illness, including infantile leukaemia.

“Our darling daughter was born without any complications, but ever since her first fever, things have gotten worse and worse. She has been diagnosed with cancer, and even chemotherapy hasn’t helped fight it,” Mohammad Farooq, 38, an admin executive from Pakistan, told Gulf News.

Now, without a bone-marrow transplant, she has no chance for survival, said Dr Thana Ansari, paediatric haematology oncology specialist at Abu Dhabi public hospital, the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC). The procedure, which is not available in the UAE, will cost about Dh106,000 if performed in Pakistan.

“But with my limited salary of Dh7,000, and two older boys and a wife to provide for, I have no way to meet this cost. How can I save my girl’s life,” Farooq said.

Things didn’t always seem so dire however.

Hajirah needs a bone-marrow transplant as soon as possible. If the procedure is successful, she has a 70 per cent chance of survival. But without it, she has no chance at all.

- Dr Thana Ansari, Paediatric haematology oncology specialist

In fact, Hajirah was born a healthy three kilograms in May 2017 after an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and her parents spent a whole month without any worries. Then, at the age of a month-and-a-half, she developed a sudden fever that had to be treated with antibiotics.

A few days later, she experienced a seizure, and her parents rushed her to the emergency room of a public hospital. Tests followed, and they were then urged to visit specialists at the SKMC.

The little girl was finally diagnosed with leukaemia in September 2017. Chemotherapy was prescribed, but her parents were unable to complete the entire treatment protocol after October.

By December, Hajirah was sick again, and had to be hospitalised: her cancer had returned. A stronger dose of chemotherapy was prescribed again and her cancer seemed to go into remission after a while.

Then, at the beginning of November this year, doctors once again found a lesion on her skull. Further tests revealed that the cancer was back, Dr Ansari explained.

“Hajirah needs a bone-marrow transplant as soon as possible. If the procedure is successful, she has a 70 per cent chance of survival. But without it, she has no chance at all,” the doctor said. She added that Hajirah’s white blood cell count is already very low, and even a simple illness can affect her gravely because of her weakened immune system.

Despite the situation, Farooq does not know what to do.

“I don’t make enough to be able to afford her surgery. But all I want is for her to feel better. If only this could somehow be made possible for us,” the worried father said.

The family is yet to find a donor for the transplant, and is also checking with various hospitals in Pakistan to see where the surgery can be performed.

“I would be infinitely grateful if the generous people of the UAE would help save my daughter’s life,” Farooq added.