MUMBAI: As tensions between India and Pakistan run high and leaders from either side lock horns over a range of political differences, a rare act of kindness from across the border might have changed a Pakistani girl's life forever.
An Indian non-governmental organisation (NGO) has raised almost Indian Rs1.3 million in funds for the treatment of a young Pakistani girl, who suffers from Wilson's disease — a rare genetic disorder, said a report published on The Time of India.
Saba Tariq Ahmed, a 15-year-old Karachi resident, returned home along with her mother Nazia, after undergoing treatment for the disorder — that results in poisonous accumulation of copper in the body — at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai.
TOI quoted Jaslok hospital CEO Dr Taran Gainchandani as saying: "Saba and her mother, Nazia, boarded an afternoon flight for Karachi. They were extremely happy about how well the treatment worked for Saba."
According to the report, Saba's family was assisted financially for her treatment twice between April and October, 2015.
In April-May, an NGO, Bluebells Community, raised INR 700,000 from Mumbai citizens. "But Saba did not respond too well to the regularly prescribed medicines for Wilson's disease," TOI quoted liver specialist Dr Aabha Nagral, who has been treating the teen, as saying.
Dr Nagral added that Saba needed a change of medication, as well as physiotherapy to regain her movement.
Saba returned to Karachi in May, but her condition deteriorated upon which, Saba's mother contacted Shabia Walia of Bluebells Community.
The NGO then started an online crowdfunding movement in order to raise INR 1 million for a three-month treatment with an alternative medication that is not easily available in India or Pakistan.
"We spread Saba's story so far and wide that we got an American NGO, Rachel and Drew Katz Foundation, contributing INR 400,000 and a London-based NGO promising free supply of medicines,'' the reported quoted Walia as saying.
A wheelchair-bound Saba then returned to Mumbai on August 24. At that point, she could not speak and had tremors and abnormal involuntary movements, said the report.
She was then provided physiotherapy and the alternative drug, Trientine — which helps remove copper accumulation from the body, said Dr Nagral. Saba is currently on two capsules a day, "but it should be stepped up to five soon,'' the doctor said.
According to the report, 100 capsules of the drug cost INR 84,000.
The doctor also took Saba out for dinner at a themed restaurant inspired by Bollywood actor Salman Khan, of whom Saba is a big fan.
According to Dr Nagral, Nazia was glad her fears about "things being not smooth in India" did not come true.
"She [Nazia] said Mumbai had been full of warmth and happiness for her and her daughter,'' said Dr Nagral.