‘Thank you, UAE’: 11-year-old girl who beat cancer hopes to meet Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed

She wanted to personally express her gratitude to the UAE leadership for offering world-class healthcare facilities to everyone



Supplied photos
Supplied photos
by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 21 Jan 2023, 5:57 PM

Last updated: Sat 21 Jan 2023, 9:10 PM

When 11-year-old Nahl Khalid made her way to the stage to address a group of paediatric doctors, it prompted a round of applause from the audience. Just last year, this Pakistani girl was battling acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, an aggressive type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells.

Speaking at the fifth edition of the Emirates Paediatric, Haematology and Oncology Conference, she recalled her experience of receiving a successful bone marrow transplant (BMT) for leukaemia, which was conducted at Burjeel Medical City, Abu Dhabi, in August last year.

Nahl delivered the inaugural speech of the two-day conference. She praised the tireless efforts of the medical team, and expressed her gratitude to the leadership for offering world-class healthcare facilities to everyone.

“I was very optimistic throughout my year-long journey. I never cried thinking about my disease or chemotherapy session, which resulted in losing my hair. I cried only because of the pain caused by the multiple pricking of the needles. I was comforted and supported by the doctors and medical staff. I thank them for helping me reach this point. I can’t thank my brother enough for being a donor,” Nahal told Khaleej Times.

The young brave heart counts her family residing in the UAE Capital as a great blessing of Allah.

“When I was sick during chemotherapy, I remember telling my father: ‘Baba, thank Allah that we are in the UAE. If we were in some other place, how could we manage all this? For taking care of me and giving me this opportunity, I want to thank the UAE and its Rulers. I am hoping to go back to school in the coming months and share all these inspiring stories with my friends and teachers,” said the Grade 6 student at International Indian School in Baniyas.

One day, the youngster hopes to meet the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to thank him for creating an “outstanding healthcare system” in the country and being “generous to one and all”.

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Her father Khalid Fayyaz, who has been a resident for the last 20 years, turned emotional thinking about the pain and trauma his daughter underwent for almost a year.

“She was a very active child until being diagnosed with this dreadful disease. Seeing her fight all odds for almost a year is the most precious moment of my life.”

Fayyaz noted that while attending the conference, all those moments of pain and endurance flashed through his mind.

“I recollected the memories of those horrible days, the faces of those who stood with us, and days and nights of fear and hope. She had 24 days of fever and had to stay in quarantine for three months in the hospital, with her mother, facing all the physical and mental difficulties. As she shared her happiness with the doctors across the UAE and abroad, we are on top of the world.”

The conference has been conducted in association with Burjeel Medical City, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Chicago, Children’s National Hospital, US, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, US, Boston Children’s Hospital, US, American Hospital, UAE, NMC Royal Hospital, and Clemenceau Medical Center Hospital, Dubai.

The main focus of this year’s conference, which began on Saturday, is on the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and experience that can help the specialists provide the best possible care to children fighting the big C and blood disorders.

The conference features 24 national and 18 international speakers from different countries, including the UAE, the US, Italy, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

Dr Zainul Aabideen, chairman of the Scientific and Organising Committee, said the conference offers a platform for paediatric oncologists to work together to improve cancer care for children in this country.

“We have made rapid advancements in the field and will continue to update ourselves by conducting such conferences to benefit children with cancer and their families,” said Dr Aabideen.

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