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Haleema leaves for surgery in India

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Haleema Mohammed, centre, who suffers from Beta Thalassemia Major with her parents, Kristal and Hamil wave at relatives at the Piarco International Airport shortly before the first leg of their journey to India where she will under go surgery. Also in photo is Haleema’s brother Haleem, right, the bone marrow donor for her life-saving surgery.

From rejection by the Children’s Life Fund Authority to being rescued by kind-hearted citizens, five-year-old Haleema Mohammed was on her way to India yesterday with the hope of securing a healthier life.

Along with her hero brother Haleem, aged seven, the bone marrow donor for her life-saving surgery, their mother Kristal and father Hamil, they left the Piarco International Airport around 1 pm on a flight to London, England.

Haleema suffers from Beta Thalassemia Major, a blood disorder which reduces the production of haemoglobin.

Patients with the disorder usually suffer fatigue, shortness of breath, jaundice, deformities of the facial bones, slow growth and a swollen abdomen.

Kristal told the T&T Guardian that they were expected to reach India tomorrow where Haleema and Haleem will undergo surgery at the Fortis Memorial Institute for Allogeneic Transplant in Gurgaon.

Kristal was grateful for the support she received from the public after having to find $400,000 for the surgeries.

In a telephone interview, she said they held prayer sessions for a safe and successful travel and operations.

Even before they left yesterday, relatives were at their Penal home to bring comfort and best wishes.

However, Kristal said Haleema did not know that she will undergo surgery and she will wait for the doctors to explain the situation.

“I want the doctors to explain it to her and maybe she might feel different to how I may put it. I didn’t want to tell her to bring her spirits down. She just thinks we are going to Tobago, so she asked me if I brought her bath suit.

“I’m just frightened because this is the first time we are going through anything like this.

I’m thinking about everything and hoping that it all goes well. It is the first time we’ll be travelling so far and I’m worried about the stress and then it is my two children that will be going through surgery,” Kristal said.

On August 15, Kristal filed a lawsuit challenging the delay by the Authority to consider her application as urgent.

The authority had previously stated that it would take between one and three months to consider.

The board conceded and committed to reviewing the case. The following day, the authority rejected the application, saying that the disorder was not considered a life-threatening illness as required by Section 19(e) of the Act and once managed properly, life expectancy can extend into adulthood.

But with the contributions of both private and corporate citizens, enough money was raised. The family is expected back in Trinidad in three months time.


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