Family lost everything to medicines as three sons suffer from critical diseases

by Umar Khurshid

SRINAGAR: Abdul Rashid Sheikh 45, from Doni Chak, Anzwalla village of  Islamabad while flipping his son’s prescriptions says that, “when I got a call from my brother Mushtaq 40, the first thing I told my brother on phone was to save prescriptions from the fire.”

In July 2017, when fire had engulfed Rashid’s house he lost everything in that as his two-storey mud house was the only property for the two brothers’. Even those Rs 30,000 which he had spared for his son’s surgery went up in smoke. The surgery was supposed to take place the next day.

Abdul Rashid Sheikh with his brother father and two of the three sons suffering from serious ailments. KL Image:Umar Khurshid

“We had borrowed that money, putting my life at risk I preferred to save prescriptions, first not money,” says Mushtaq Rashid s younger brother.

On July 13, 2017, early morning after Rashid left for his work he was called by his brother that due to the gas stove explosion their house is in flames right now. “I left my belongings over there and rushed back to home,” says Rashid.

When Rashid reached his house he saw a huge crowd of people and his family weeping outside. The abode of Rashid and Mushtaq was actually destroyed. “We have nothing left now,” Rashid said.

Destruction of the house wasn’t the only catastrophe for Rashid’s family. They are in crisis for many years now.

Their tragedy started in 2004 when Rashid came to know about his elder son Kifayat 10, who had a (VSD) hole in the heart. The kid was barely one-and-a-half years old.

The family came to know after Kifayat complained of a problem in breathing, and started feeling unconsciousness. Next day, Rashid took his son and rushed  to district hospital Sonawar where he was admitted for 15 days. “We spent more than a lakh for his treatment till now separately, could have spent more but we didn’t have much money,” Rashid said.

In 2006, Rashid’s second elder son Mudasir Ahmed 10, started complaining of pain and swelling in his leg. “His left leg was swelled and became heavy to lift, he even complained of severe pain in his both legs” says Rashid’s younger brother Mushtaq.

Mudasir was immediately taken to district hospital Islamabad. After several tests and treatments, Rashid was told by child specialist doctor Mushtaq Ahmed to refer his son to Bone and Joint hospital Barzallah Srinagar, a suitable hospital to treat this kind of problems. Later when family couldn’t recognize any improvement they took Mudasir to a private doctor who stays in Bemina (Srinagar) and later confirmed of having malignancy (first stage of cancer). “It was literally a shock for our family, as no one of our family had this before,” says Rashid.

Rashid was also told that Mudasir’s Tibia leg bone has been cracked down, due to malignancy which is decaying the main Tibia also. In the same year when Mudasir was not able to take just one step, he was taken to PGI Chandigarh hospital for the treatment.

In PGI, the first surgery called “Grafting” for Mudasir was done in 2012. “That was just to put rods in between to keep his leg straight, as due to the malignancy his main leg bone was bent down so doctors weren’t able to treat a tumour,” recalls Rashid.

Then after four months gap, the family were suggested for the check up but due to the 2016 uprising they were not even able to visit District Hospital Islamabad also. Later during the relaxation hours Mudasir was taken to Dr Shabir of Bemina who took out those rods from his leg and observed no improvement. “The news literally shattered all of our family members, my wife started crying from the hospital itself,” says Rashid.

In 2016, due to the no improvement Mudasir became fully crippled and he was taken to Jhelum Valley College and hospital Srinagar for an operation, but unfortunately during a check up again it came to know that Mudasir is not again fit enough for the surgery as his main leg bone has become very weak a silent vibration can break it down. Even doctor cleared Rashid by saying “the operation is just to help him get back on legs, not to cure the cancer” says Rashid.

Later, when unrest was at its peak, Rashid couldn’t take his son to Srinagar for a checkup and delay led the mucus start coming out of Mudasir’s diseased leg.  The family had nowhere to go. All the routes leading to Srinagar were either sealed with concertina wires or blocked by the protesters. District hospital Islamabad was the only choice left them.

The family was later suggested an artificial leg as a support to make him able enough to walk, but it wasn’t easy for Rashid to arrange money for surgery.  A month later, however, Mudasir got an artificial leg. Then an X ray suggested while the crack was a bit improved, the tumour was there.

Then, Ayan Ahmed 5, younger son of Abdul Rashid, had a lump in his throat which had spread five inches of roots from every side. Ayan was just one year old when he had diarrhoea and he was taken to district hospital. After a treatment for a week, there was no improvement and Ayan was referred to SKIMS where he was declared having a (VSD) Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole in the heart.

After a treatment for two years there were no improved in Ayan’s throat lump. Rashid then again took him to SKIMS where he was given medicine for a 13-month course. Later, he was given a month’s long additional course.

In 2015, when Ayan again complained of pain and swelling in his throat   The family rushed to SKIMS and came to know Ayan also suffers from malignancy by his throat tumour.

“I can’t even count how much I have spent on my three children, it’s around 8 lakh in which half of the money I had borrowed from my acquaintances,” says Rashid. “Ultimately I have stopped to treat three of my sons, where will I get money, house was the only property that also didn’t remain now.”

Abdul Gani Sheikh, father of Mushtaq and Rashid in his seventies, lives in a tin shed now. They have nothing left which he can sell for his grandsons now. “We don’t have anything to pay back the loans we lifted,” says Gani.

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