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Fiji: A plea for help

23 January 2012 1,251 No Comment

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=190560

A plea for help

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, January 12, 2012

FOR Lautoka Central Primary schoolteacher Ashwin Kumar, living a full and healthy life with his wife and 16-month-old son seemed like an ideal way to spend the rest of his days after a life of service to one of Fiji’s most popular sport, soccer.

But that dream is now crumbling before his eyes after the avid sportsman was diagnosed with Aplastic Anaemia, a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells.

According to the United States’ National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, problems caused by the debilitating disorder include irregular heartbeats – or arrhythmias, an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections and bleeding. Severe Aplastic Anaemia can even cause death.

Living with the blood disorder for almost a year, Mr Kumar said he never thought something this serious would happen to him.

“I used to be a referee for soccer games like the IDC and I would get fitness tests and go to New Zealand for further training and during that time I was fit and healthy. I never drank alcohol, yaqona or smoked. I always took care of myself and did daily training because of the work that I did,” he said.

But that all changed last year when Mr Kumar started tiring easily and feeling fatigued after a normal training session.

A schoolteacher for 13 years, Mr Kumar said he went for a routine check-up at a medical clinic and the results that came back were positive for Aplastic Anaemia.

“After being diagnosed in early February of last year, I went to the doctors at Lautoka Hospital and they prescribed Vitamin pills along with constant blood transfusions,” he said.

Despite their best efforts, he continued to suffer and after a chance trip overseas, Mr Kumar found out that his condition could be treated with a bone marrow transplant.

During a trip to New Zealand to visit relatives, he went to a hospital for a routine check-up on his condition and was told a transplant operation could permanently fix his problem.

“I had no idea that I could be healed through an operation,” he said.

“All I was getting from the Lautoka Hospital were Vitamin pills and blood transfusions. But I can’t really blame the doctors here because I also found out that there are no haematologists (blood specialists) in the country.”

Mr Kumar came back with specialised medication prescribed by a haematologist and told doctors here of the change.

“They are helping me with the right drug this time but it costs me about $1000 for each dose and every prescription is only for a 15-day timeline,” the 33-year old said.

During his treatment, Mr Kumar began his search for financial help for medication which so far has proven to be futile.

“I had medical insurance with Dominion Insurance but they declined my request for overseas treatment stating that bone marrow transplant was not included in the insurance policy. Moreover, my request to the Ministry of Health was futile as they decided not to give a single cent stating that cost of treatment is too high,” said the civil servant.

Mr Kumar said the ministry, however, did provide a quotation for the costs of his treatment. The cheapest quote they obtained from was a transplant in India which costs about $US50,000 ($F90,110).

Now Mr Kumar has turned to NGOs for help and this has revealed a gap in NGO assistance programs – none are geared toward or cater for his specific problem.

People interested in helping Mr Kumar can donate money by depositing any amount of cash to BSP account number: 8383449 or directly contact him on 9471724.

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