UAE: Pakistani boy with rare cancer gets free treatment

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Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - He had initially complained of pain in his throat and was later diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma.


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Tue 13 Jul 2021, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Jul 2021, 3:27 PM

Twelve-year-old Mohammed Talha didn’t have health insurance coverage for cancer when he was diagnosed. But he was able to beat the big C, thanks to the free treatment offered by a private hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier this year, Talha — a Grade 7 Pakistani student at an Abu Dhabi school — was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a rare type of cancer found in children. The diagnosis was made at a hospital in Pakistan where he and his family had been on a short trip.

“We had gone to Pakistan to attend a function and see our relatives. One day, Talha came to me complaining about throat pain. I took him to a nearby hospital. We had no idea that the worst news was waiting for us,” said his father Mukhtar, who works as a real estate agent.

The doctor found swelling in Talha’s throat. Suspecting the chance of cancer, they did a biopsy, and the result devastated the family.

“I could not believe my ears when the doctor told me that Talha has cancer. I didn’t know how to respond. I felt like the world came to an end. My child was complaining of throat pain and now he has cancer,” recalled Mukhtar.

With prayers and hope of better medical care, the family returned to Abu Dhabi.

The residents of Mohammed Bin Zayed City went to nearby Burjeel Medical City. They met Dr Zainul Aabideen, paediatric consultant, who told them the cancer was treatable and the chances of recovery were high.

However, the family had taken insurance coverage for Talha only recently, and the cancer treatment was not covered.

“But God has been kind to us. Dr Aabideen and the hospital came forward to help. They offered the treatment free of cost,” the father said.

Talha underwent a series of tests and scans. A multi-disciplinary team studied the case and charted an intensive treatment regime. The latest scan and test results show Talha does not have caner anymore.

“For us, Talha’s recovery is heartening. God is great and kind,” said a relieved Mukhtar.

Dr Aabideen noted the boy showed immense courage during the treatment.

“He knew everything about his condition. We were amazed to see the positivity that emanated from him. Talha was very confident that he would recover and bounce back to a normal life. He had displayed maturity beyond his age. He was very cooperative and religiously followed the instructions,” the doctor said.

Talha, who is now fit and healthy, will be discharged from Burjeel Medical City soon. He will have to follow routine checkups and continue treatment for the next six months to avoid the chance of a recurrence.

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