From transfusions to transplant - how a five-year-old girl defeated Thalassemia

Rupavathi is a little more than five years old. She lived with her family in a small village near Dharmapuri, Tamil Nadu. Her father worked as a coolie who helped in mason work locally. Her mother was a house wife. Rupavathi was diagnosed with thalassemia when she was one year old. The local doctor referred her to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bengaluru. Starting from 2011, Rupavathi was continuously receiving blood transfusion there for free. "The doctors there were nice. Sankalp volunteers helped me a lot. Right from the beginning, they made sure blood was available in the hospital. I was afraid of needles. But there were doctors, nurses and volunteers to take care of me. I made many friends there," Rupavathi says. When Rupavathi was 2.5 years old, an HLA match for her was found. Her elder sister, Kripa was a perfect match for Bone Marrow Transfusion. Although the family was overjoyed, the very next moment carried a feeling of guilt and helplessness. "Bone Marrow Transplant is an expensive procedure. We didn't have any money. We had little support from our family too," Rupavathi's mother Maadeshwari told us. Rupavathi and her parents were counselled by doctors to go ahead with the procedure. Meanwhile volunteers of Sankalp were constantly working towards raising funds for her transplant. The Bone Marrow Transplant centre in People's Tree Hospital, Yeshwantpur had just started and hopes were high. Meanwhile Rupavathi's father, Chakravarty, found a job of a security guard at a PU college in Bengaluru. The college gave them a house in Adugodi to live in. The family shifted to the city for the transplant. Students of the college contributed for the transplant too. Amidst many prayers and speculations, the transplant was done. Rupavathi is doing fine now. A happy child, she visits the doctor at Samraksha for followups regularly. Although her fear for needles is gone, she doesn't need blood transfusion anymore. "I want to grow up and become a doctor," she says.
Patrika Section