"He loves Lionel Messi, and even though that he can't play football like he used to, we are losing hope very quickly with every breath he takes, we are here hoping for a miracle, " said Imran Hussain’s brother Asif Hussain, the former being Pakistan's goalkeeper in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games’ medal-winning team and the star athlete in long jump in the 2013 Asia-Pacific Games.
Imran, 23, is suffering from cancer, and has been an athlete since he was in school in 2008 and according to his coach Ishrat Zehra the only thing that is carrying Imran now is his will power.
Imran has been a medallist in long jump and 400m sprint while his outing at the 2015 World Games was with football as Zehra puts it, "because Imran is tall and very sharp for the game, despite having multiple disabilities, including hearing, but he can communicate through sign language and lip reading."
Zehra believes that Imran's greatest asset had been his will to live lately.
"If you had met him before his cancer diagnosis and treatment, you wouldn't believe how different he is now, but it is just his will power now. We are losing him very fast and he needs help. I have known Imran since he was very young and took him into sports at the special needs school because of his physique. We got him into cycling first, but then we saw great potential in long jump and athletics and later in football too. Imran has been a part of Special Olympics national games in three editions as well and had gone to Australia for Asia-Pacific Games and later on World Games in Los Angeles."
According to Imran's older brother Asif, the diagnosis for Imran came in 2018 and the early treatment began and the family was told that cancer near Imran's testicles is curable and would only take few months, however after three rounds of chemotherapy and almost all the family savings gone, Asif is in debt and fearing the worst.
"I have no hope from this country my brother played for, no hope. I wonder if there is any conscience in the people of this country. I'm appealing to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to look at my brother, since Imran Khan has been an athlete too, and has seen what cancer can do to a family. I’m appealing for a proper treatment for my brother.
"We need money. The only thing left for us to sell is our house now. I am also a person of very limited salary, I'm requesting for a proper treatment for my brother. He had these pictures taken with the Army Chief, with Governor Sindh, people took lots of pictures with the Special Olympics medallists in 2015 but now no one is there to help us," pleads Asif.
The family resides in Gulshan-e-Hadeed in Karachi and Asif believes that Imran just wants to play football despite his weakness due to cancer.
"We have two footballs at home, he used to go out and play street football but now even that is impossible. He is growing weaker right before our eyes, and we just want his treatment abroad, because the doctors here are not sure how to deal with his case," said Asif.
Zehra added that Imran's cancer is the same as that of Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh's but it is the limited resource that is a problem.
"I don't know much about it medically, but I know his cancer could have been treated better, the family has tried all they could but they need help. When I read about his condition it seemed like the same as that of Yuvraj Singh's, but again this needs government's attention and fast. We are losing a bright star in Imran here, he is not just an athlete but also an example for our society in many ways, through his spirit that is not to give up, but he needs help from his country now," concluded Zehra.
Meanwhile, Asif is hoping that he can get the authorities to pay attention, just enough, as Imran is not only his youngest sibling out of six in the family but also an athlete for the country.
"It is not just about the Special Olympics, it is about that fact that he has had a purpose with sports. It has been about mainstreaming differently abled people and I just want treatment for him. If not from here, then from abroad. We have only been sent to Civil Hospital and Jinnah Hospital where they don't even treat humans like humans, and the waiting list is long and even Shaukat Khanum Hospital branch in Karachi, they are not giving us much hope," said Asif.