For many young people, life begins at eighteen. Not for Muhammad Yasir. He was only four years old when his father died.
Later, his dream to kiss the sky fell to earth as poverty forced him to drop out of school and start working. In a heart wrenching twist of fate, after working assiduously for the better part of his short life, when he had finally become capable of supporting his family, he was diagnosed with blood cancer.
For the past few days he has been struggling between life and death on a stretcher in the corridor of medical ward 3 of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), writhing from heat and without access to even a fan.
Yasir is from Peshawar and is the middle child among three boys. His mother is a domestic worker.
“For the past few months he regularly had high fever. We thought it was some viral infection but last month he had a test done in which he was diagnosed with this deadly disease,” Yasir’s older brother, Muhammad Asim, told The Express Tribune.
The news left his family defeated and dejected. “After our father’s death we are the only ray of light for our mother, but after learning of Yasir’s illness her hopes have shattered,” he said.
Yasir was taken to various public hospitals in Peshawar, but no one would look at him because of the doctors’ strike.
“Finding a doctor and getting timely treatment for my brother, whose condition was worsening with each passing minute, became a big challenge for us with our limited savings,” he said.
Later, with little money in his pocket but hope in his heart, he brought his younger brother to Islamabad. A relative in Rawalpindi helped him get to Pims.
But that was not the end of their struggle. Do what they may, they simply could not get the oncologist to look at Yasir. “Throughout the day we kept struggling to get some reference so that the doctor would examine my brother.” At the end of the day they managed to get a doctor to examine Yasir and admit him to the hospital.
However, for the last few days, he has been on a stretcher in the corridor as no beds are available in the ward.
“No one is cooperating with me. Throughout the day I have to wait for the ward boy to come, so that I can get blood for my brother from the blood bank as without him, they do not give it,” he said.
Besides this, due to financial constraints, both brothers are barely eating.
“I have no words to explain the pain that I am passing through, being his elder brother, it is my responsibility to provide proper food and treatment to him but [what can I do with] my weak financial position,” Asim said.
Asim said he needs Rs300,000-400,000 for his brother’s treatment, but he has no idea how to arrange such a large sum of money. He has appealed to philanthropists, NGOs, Baitul Mal and all privileged people for financial support to save his brother. As Asim said, “No one deserves to die just because they are poor.”
His contact number is 0313-9222504.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 30th, 2011.