True story: From platelets to papaya leaves, my brush with dengue

Published: September 18, 2011
Nayel Noorani was in hospital for 10 days. Here he is seen in hospital and a month after.

Nayel Noorani was in hospital for 10 days. Here he is seen in hospital and a month after.

Nayel Noorani was in hospital for 10 days. Here he is seen in hospital and a month after. Nayel Noorani was in hospital for 10 days. Here he is seen in hospital and a month after.

It all started with that one mosquito. It even looked different — larger than the usual kind, and even today, I distinctly remember the gray and white markings on its wings and body.

I killed it within seconds of seeing it, but by then it was too late. My ankle was itching. Still, who pays any attention, right? I scratched my ankle and drove off.

Two weeks later, I noticed a few black marks on my arms, which I figured were bruises. I was running late to get to a wedding, so I paid no attention. When I got back, my back was covered in bruises and when I woke up the next morning, I had a large bruise on the inner side of my lower lip. I rushed to my family practitioner, who said: “It’s nothing to worry about. Probably a viral. It’ll go away in a day or two.”

On somebody’s instinct, I got a blood test done, but before the results could come back, I had spiked a fever and was feeling extremely nauseous. My parents took me to the nearest hospital, where the emergency room doctor ordered an immediate platelet count. It was 3,000 (the minimum for a healthy person is 150,000).

Within half an hour, I was placed in the ICU, with strict orders not to brush my teeth or shave and to think twice before so much as going to the bathroom. The next three days I was averaging temperatures of 104 degrees. I couldn’t eat. I still don’t understand how my family and friends could look at me then – my lips were constantly oozing blood. Then the fevers stopped and all hell broke loose.

In all this while, my brother and uncles were constantly hunting down volunteers to donate platelets, which were given to me twice a day for the first eight of the 10 days I was hospitalised. After the first three days, my platelet count crossed 10,000 and my blood resumed some semblance of its normal ability to clot outside my veins.

The blood oozing from my gums and lips became semi-solid. My lips turned to black stone. Two days later, the blood starting clotting in my bladder and doing pretty much what a kidney stone does – blocking the piping, 12 times. All the while, the only medicine they could give me was paracetamol to help with the fever.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, the doctors couldn’t decide whether I had dengue, Congo fever or Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP). Checking for ITP meant drilling a hole in the breastbone to draw a sample of bone marrow, which couldn’t be done. Why? Because my blood wasn’t clotting enough for me to be able to cope with the wound and so, if they did, I was a goner.

Everything seemed bleak, when a family friend suggested to my mother to give me the juice of a few papaya leaves twice a day. Within two days of that, my platelet count jumped past 450,000. From needing platelets, I could now donate! The doctors put me under observation for 24 hours and then the ordeal was over, or so I thought. It was a month before my muscles, particularly those in my back, realised that I was no longer bed-ridden and that they had to start doing their jobs.

To date, I shudder to think what my family went through, even just to look at me. What’s worse, not only did they have to take care of me, but they also go through the effort of finding donors so that I could get the platelet infusions I needed twice a day. I’ve learnt my lesson —take that mosquito seriously next time. And use mosquito repellent.

The writer contracted dengue in August 2009. He is a former medical student and rotary representative.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • AS
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:08PM

    Thanks to Allah for HIS Miracles..My only brother contracted Dengue twice in 2010 and he was in bad bad shape, but my sisters Mother-in-law then made papaya leaf juice and just like u, in two days AllhamdulillAh his platelets went up and he recovered….:)


  • Hasan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:14PM

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Glad to hear that things turned out well. It is however sad that the cost of papaya leaves goes to unprecedented heights during such epidemics.


  • Javeria Mahmood
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:43PM

    Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii A mosquito bit me on my hand and left a black spot…….. Haye Rabba so should I start taking Papaya Leaves in advance to prevent Dengue fever….. very informative though


  • Rimal
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:50PM

    You are lucky for being survive. :) Good luck for healthy future and Everyone should pray for other infected victims.


  • FAZ
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:53PM

    So the papaya myth is true!!


  • banaras
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:31PM

    Good to hear you’re doing fine again after your brush with dengue. What is the mechanism of action of papaya leaves in increasing platelet counts?


  • Humza Jami
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:01PM

    Good to see you back on your feet Nayel, hope to see you in the best of health for a successful Speak Up :)


  • Xam Xaffa
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:07PM

    Wow, So He Got Okay With Papaya Leaves Alone. Superb. What A Relief To Read This.


  • Muhammad Sajjad
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:24PM

    This is madness. Mr. Nayel I am grateful to Allah that he gave you recovery. But if you had not drank the Papaya juice (or lemon with garlic or any other concoction du jour) your platelets would still be returning back to normal in 2-3 days. That seems to be the story for the thousands that did not drink the papaya and still recovered. Please look up the natural course of severe dengue on pubmedRecommend

  • Sep 18, 2011 - 2:25PM

    thank you for sharing the worst story of that tinny insect! glade there is one leaf that gives so quick relief ,people must take care and hve those juice around,i would doubt our people will start selling those leaves for 100000!% we are the worst people during bad times!


  • Ishrat Salim
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:34PM

    Shukar Al hamdollillah that u r OK…..Hope this finds its way to many of the poor affected people who cannot afford hospitalisation…..atleast some NGO shud make these poor people aware of such cheap treatment & provide same to them….may Allah swt give shifa to all…A`ameen.

    This is like Coconut water which was found as the best & the cheapest treatmen against cholera & gastro diseases in BD…

    Nayal Noorani Sb…as a sadqa for getting new life from Allah swt….pls provide this treatment & awareness among the many poor people of the country & earn Allah`s blessing…


  • roundabout
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:40PM

    Thanks for sharing you experience. The papaya leaf myth is not a myth but a reality I guess.


  • Chubaka
    Sep 18, 2011 - 5:43PM

    For papaya leaf to the recomendatoin of being in central park on the 21 of august. You is the best ;)


  • Chaudhry Allah Daad
    Sep 18, 2011 - 5:48PM

    Thanks for sharing your experience in detail. Still not sure if it was Papaya or virul cycle was complete. Many experts say that Papaya is a myth, completion of virul cycle is a reality. Experts please say something.


  • S M Hasan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 6:10PM

    Last year my daughter in law got Dengu. Thanks Allah her platelets were which were depleting fast, She was on Papa Leaf juice and fortunately the fast falling platelets were controlled and she recovered.

    There are many stories like this. During the past one year i have not read anywhere if any research has been done on the effectiveness of Papaya Leaf Juice Are there no efforts in this direction or they are kept secret from press ? One year is a long period for researchers to establish the efficacy of Papaya.


  • Sep 18, 2011 - 7:38PM

    Papaya leaf’s effect on platelets is not a myth and I am myself a proof of that. Last year, just after the super floods, my 60+ uncle and his 40+ son came down with a variant of Dengue and Malaria respectively. For uncle we needed 8 platelets donations to stabilize the count and both he and his son took the juice. Pretty soon their count jump back to normal, much faster than other patients of the same infection at the hospital.
    Right after they started to recover, I was infected with Malaria and my platelet count dropped down to 33,000. The constant 105 fever and fragile body (I literally felt like if I fell, I might break like a badly made doll) was a really bad experience and once malaria was diagnosed, I use both anti-malaria medication as well as took swallows of papaya leaf juice daily. After 4 days my platelet count had risen to 510,000.
    It is NOT advisable to drink the juice in large quantity (more than one small swallow in a day) and neither for more than 4 days max, otherwise it will have negative effects on health.Recommend

  • Uzair
    Sep 18, 2011 - 10:07PM

    Highly irresponsible reporting. Disappointed at the Tribune. There have been no controlled trials confirming the positive effect of papaya on dengue. DO NOT RELY ONLY ON PAPAYA instead of conventional allopathic medicine.

    Furthermore, there is a very simply explanation for the sudden increase in platelet count, and very disappointing that a “former medical student” couldnt spot it. In the recovery phase of dengue, there is rapid resorption of the leaked fluid into the bloodstream which causes a dramatic increase in platelet counts and improvement in the health of the patient.


  • Hellfires
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:32AM

    I got infected by dengue not more than a month ago in ramadan and my brother immediately after that, and being a former medical student atleast you should get your facts right
    You don’t go from being a healthy person to critical, it has a clinical course. Fever is the first thing you should have noticed. followed by joint pain, pain behind your eyeballs, and the rash is followed after the fever and in only 50-80% of the patients.
    And papaya leaf juice might not be a cure but it doesn’t hurt,
    as for your platelets shooting up so quick there is a very simple medical explaination:
    ‘ In the recovery phase of dengue, there is rapid resorption of the leaked fluid into the bloodstream which causes a dramatic increase in platelet counts and improvement in the health of the patient’.


  • Shuffleshuttle
    Sep 19, 2011 - 11:37AM

    Yaar how can thing blog me complete without good old imran khan bashing.. If he were president/ King/COAS Slave whatever he wants to be.. dengue would have been gone.. cause he would have let tigers loose from the Lahore zoo…!!


  • Dr. Afzal
    Sep 19, 2011 - 2:01PM

    @Uzair: You seem to be so concerned about this irresponsible reporting, which doesn’t actually say that papaya leaves are a cure. It just says that he took them and his platelet count improved two days later. But you say that we should rely on conventional allopathic medicine.

    Maybe you could tell us what medicines are prescribed for dengue? Because my 8 years of study and 4 years of experience have all told me there is no drug for dengue. As doctors, all we can do is reduce the fever, alleviate vomiting and keep replacing lost fluids with ORS. Maybe you can tell us something that all medicine textbooks and doctors seem to know nothing about?


  • Yaseen Amir
    Sep 22, 2011 - 12:14AM

    is this an article or self appreciation ?


  • Afnan Ansari
    Sep 22, 2011 - 2:43PM

    Hi, i lost my 18 years old brother due to dengue shock syndrome (Last stage of Dengue fever) and because of the mishandling of doctors, any ways his time has come now what ever i say, it will change nothing.

    Juice of Papayas leaves and fresh apple juice + some drops of lemons in it are not the medicines nor cure of dengue fever. the will only help the patients to be in good shape or i can say empowering the patient to avoid admitting in hospitals or incase of admission in hospital avoid the extreme medication and drips etc.

    i have done a little research on dengue fever and it might be help full for some one.
    1. The life of dengue virus is almost 8 days,
    In first two days the virus spread it self into the body and start eating the white blood cells. white blood cells works to protect our body from sickness. as the count of white blood cells drops the first thing happens is Pain in Shin then Stomach and then in arms. this pains increase gradually and after it on the end of 2nd day it turns in to high grade fever, all the problem starts from the fever, as the fever increases the patients got dizzy and weaker.

    Mostly all the doctors try to avoid and control the fever through medicines (which is wrong), it must be controlled through cold water strips, taking bath from cold water, lie down in bath tube in cold water to reduce the fever.

    do not take any extra medicines until or unless it is necessary, take normal healthy digestive food.

    try to avoid the fever and some how pass 7 days untill the life of the virus is over.


  • Mrs Nadeem
    Sep 25, 2011 - 2:17AM

    That was a close brush with death..
    All thanks and praises for Allah swt who gave you your health back…
    Its an oppurtunity for you to realize how temporary this world is.. Turn to Allah in the true sense and adopt the principles given by our prophet Muhammad saw. There are many supplications in the Quran and ahaadeeth that are the greatest protection against every disease and calamity. Unfortunately for us we trust our capabilities and the doctors more than Allah.
    Not everyone is lucky to get a second chance. If just for a moment think of the worst possibility God forbid that could befall you, what would have happened?
    Do you think you would have been amongst the successful ones in the hereafter? I am not the judge of that but you yourself can contemplate on it.
    May Allah guide us all and give us the taufeeq to implement this beautiful deen in our lives. A deen that is not based on mere rituals(namaz, zakat and hajj) but is a complete manual as to how we are to live this life and what Allah expects from us.
    This life is an AMMANAH from Allah and we are supposed to live it by His rules. So dont waste it.Rememeber we can never make people happy no matter what we do but we can make our Lord happy very easily.


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