UPDATE: Despite a lot of effort, Hitarth passed away on 26th July, 2016. We thank all our readers who contributed to his fight against cancer.
Ahmedabad-based Dhyanesh Patel and his wife were overjoyed after having twins on 20 April, 2014. They named them Hiya and Hitarth. It was a wonderful time for the family. Dhyanesh, who was working with Sony, quit his job in August to start his own venture. Things were looking up for them, till one day when Hitarth got a fever.
“That was the first time one of our kids had fallen ill and we had to visit the doctor. So we took him to the family doctor and he prescribed a few medicines,” says Dhyanesh.
However, the fever wasn’t going down and they admitted him to a hospital in Maninagar.
After running some tests, the doctors realised he had mild typhoid.
“Typhoid has no vaccine. You just have to control the immune system. Hitarth was hospitalised for 17 days. His blood platelet count started dropping and the fever kept coming back,” says Dhyanesh.
Since September, Hitarth has been getting fever every single day. He is given antibiotics and the fever drops.
“We went to all the top doctors in Ahmedabad to find out what was wrong with our child. They ran all sorts of tests. The reports were sent to Mumbai, Delhi and even California. But no one could tell what was wrong with him,” says Dhyanesh.
By December 1, Hitarth was admitted to Apollo Hospital. This two-and-a-half-year-old had seen laboratories every single day and had taken at least 200 blood tests. Doctors at this hospital suggested a bone marrow test for him. In the usual scenario, one bone marrow test can determine what the problem is. However, in this child’s case he had to undergo the painful test nearly 5-6 times. One of the results was sent to Mumbai to be checked by a specialist.
Meanwhile, the doctors in Ahmedabad were perplexed and couldn’t tell why his platelet count was still dropping.
These frequent trips to the hospital had really affected Hitarth’s spirit.
The otherwise bubbly child had stopped eating and was very glum.
The doctor in Mumbai suspected that his bone marrow had failed. Further tests confirmed this and also revealed that the child’s body was battling the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV).
“The EBV is very common and a normal person’s blood cells can fight this virus. However, because my son’s platelet count was low, his body was too weak to resist it,” says Dhyanesh.
Finally, the doctors told the parents that the only way the child could survive was if he underwent a bone marrow transplant. This was another challenge as it is more difficult to find a bone marrow match for a child than for an adult.
The final jolt came in the form of his latest bone marrow test which detected Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) cells in his body.
Hitarth has now undergone his first round of chemotherapy to destroy the blood cancer cells and the results look good.
By this time the family had already spent Rs. 14 lakh on Hitarth’s hospital bills.
As they couldn’t find the perfect bone marrow donor for the child, the family decided to proceed with Haploidentical Stem Cell Transplant. In this procedure, a relative of the person will be a partial match.
In Hitarth’s case, his mother is the best match for him. On February 5, they will start chemotherapy for his bone marrow. This will last for 10 days, till the day of the transplant.
“Because his is a complicated case, where he has AML as well as bone marrow failure, the doctors say his survival chances are just 25%. At this tough time, we have no other alternative but to go ahead with the procedure,” says Dhyanesh.
The procedure is expected to cost anywhere between Rs. 18-19 lakh. The family cannot handle this financial commitment on their own and is seeking funds.