‘Mummy, I promise to wear a mask, let me play’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/mummy-i-promise-to-wear-a-mask-let-me-play/

‘Mummy, I promise to wear a mask, let me play’

Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 9-year-old needs Rs 50 lakh for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

leukemia, leukemia patient
Aditya Nair, 9, does not know he has blood cancer and that it has relapsed.

Sitting listlessly in front of the television, nine-year-old Aditya Nair does not look up when his mother enters the room. On Sunday morning, all he wanted was to be allowed to see children at play outside the house. “Mummy, I will wear a mask, I promise,” he pleads. His mother Roshni and father Rajesh Nair try to cheer him up. They have not told their child that he has blood cancer and it has relapsed. They are in a state of shock. Aditya was two years old when diagnosed with blood cancer. After three years of chemotherapy, Aditya started going to school. He was a student of class IV at St. Arnold’s School at Wadgaonsheri when he had a relapse. In July 2014, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and only a bone marrow transplant can save his life.

“I have been on child care leave for the last several months and have to go back to work,” said Roshni, who is in the accounts department of the Indian Air Force here. Rajesh said he would not get his salary if he kept applying for leave. Rajesh is an assistant manager at Central Bank of India and most of his leaves and holidays have been spent on raising funds for a bone marrow transplant — the only life-saving treatment.

Aditya was given chemotherapy and medication. He requires to undergo Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant. Since there was no matching donor in the family, haematologist Dr Vijay Ramanan contacted the Bharat stem cell registry set up in Gurgaon and were able to zero in on unrelated but matching donors — one from the US and another from France. The transplant cost works out to around Rs 50 lakh, Ramanan told The Indian Express.

For three years now, Bharat Stem Cell Registry has been helping people find matching donors. One of the founders, Dr Vimarsh Raina, when contacted in Gurgaon, said there was a need for people to come forward as donors specially when there was a requirement to perform 50,000 stem cell transplants a year. Dr Ramanan admitted that in Pune, at KEM and Ruby Hall hospital, he treated 70-80 children with leukemia and while 85 per cent were cured with chemotherapy, the remaining required transplants.

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“How do we explain to our child that he cannot play outside or go to school?” Roshni says, tears rolling down her cheeks. On some days Aditya is cheerful and writes tables or an entire page from a story book. He watches BenTen cartoons, but on some days he is angry. He pushes his six-year-old brother, refuses to talk and looks angrily at everyone,” she added. I try not to cry and my husband, mother-in-law and others sit talk to him to keep him cheerful,” Roshni said.

Since my wife is with the Indian Air Force, we are eligible to ask for Rs 10 lakh for the transplant. “But we are not eligible for an unrelated matching donor, which costs nothing less than Rs 30 lakh,” Rajesh said. “We spent a lot and all I can do is appeal for financial assistance,” Rajesh said, helplessness evident in his voice, as he braces for his son’s operation scheduled for April.

Those who wish to help Aditya Nair can write to his father Rajesh Nair at rajeshnair08@rediffmail.com or call 9049083005.