Athlone mom starts fund for son's marrow transplant

2017-05-20 09:55
Raqeeb Palm (backabuddy)

Raqeeb Palm (backabuddy)

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Cape Town - A Cape Town woman has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help her little boy get a bone marrow transplant overseas, after a local match was not found.

Three-year-old Raqeeb Palm was diagnosed with Aplastic Anaemia last year, after his worried mother Zaida took him for a check-up because he was bruising easily.

When her GP referred her to an oncology unit for tests, the Athlone mother panicked, fearing the worst.

“When you hear the word 'oncology' you almost lose your mind,” she told News24 by phone.

Her doctor warned her he might have cancer, and when the conversation turned to platelets, she said she had no idea what this meant.

“We are just basically normal people who don't know about that,” Palm said.

But she and her husband Rizaah caught up quickly, and learnt that their son's bone marrow had failed and could not produce enough platelets. 

Samples were taken for a bone biopsy and he received blood transfusions while the family waited an agonising 12 weeks for the results.

Eventually, specialists broke the news to them: Raqeeb's bone marrow was only functioning at 20% and was not able to produce enough blood for his body.

Since then, the Palms have had to take him to the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town for regular monitoring and blood transfusions.

Could cost R1 million

The happy toddler who loves joking and playing, appears to have adjusted to his new routine like a trooper after initially being very apprehensive about all the poking and prodding.

“Sometimes he just runs up to me and says 'I love you mommy. I love everybody',” Palm said.

The Palms have tried to find a bone marrow donor in South Africa, but have had no luck. They are hoping that somewhere overseas, there will be a compatible donor.

If a match is found, it could cost up to R1 million, depending on which country the donor is from.

“You can't imagine that amount,” Palm said. She was told their medical aid would not cover overseas treatment.

However, she was told it was possible to have the operation for less, depending on which country had a match.

Usually not one to ask for help, Zaida set up a crowd-funding campaign in the hopes that a donor will come through soon.

In the meantime, they try to keep his routine as normal as possible, but hardly ever go out, or receive visitors. This is in case he catches somebody else's sniffles or tummy bug, which his body is not strong enough to fight off.

He also can't go to crèche in case he falls or has a hard knock because his platelet count is too low. His grandmother has stepped in to help look after him.

Palm is full of praise for the staff at the Red Cross Children's Hospital, saying that everybody who works there treats patients with respect and kindness.

“They make everything so much easier,” said Palm.


Read more on:    cape town  |  health

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