The young couple, who reside in a two-room rented house in Aluva, were plagued by a mystery they couldn’t solve

Kerala couple run pillar to post but little hope for treating triplets with rickets Photos : The News Minute
news Monday, August 29, 2016 - 19:24

Two years after they were married, Shafeeq and Shafna, were blessed with triplets. Though the babies were born prematurely, the two boys and a girl – Shamil, Shaamik and Shahaana – were declared healthy.

But the young couple, who reside in a two-room rented house in Keezhmad panchayat of Aluva, were plagued by a mystery they couldn’t solve – why the infants often suffered fractures in their legs and hands.

“When we would leave them on the floor, we would hear one of them crying within minutes. Even a soft hit on walls, chairs or any other surface would cause them a fracture. We didn’t know why this was happening,” 26-year-old Shafna says.

Over a year ago, when one of the children came down with pneumonia and was admitted in the hospital, their condition was finally diagnosed. Doctors found out that Shamil was suffering from rickets. Later, when the other two children were also tested, it was confirmed that all of them are suffering from the same condition.

“They would also fall ill frequently. First, we consulted doctors at the Kalamassery Medical College, where they were born. They did not what was the problem. Later we showed them to doctors in a private hospital in Kochi. It was the doctor there that said they have got Rickets,” she added.

Rickets, a condition that affects bone development in children, is caused by a deficiency of vitamin D or calcium, and in rare cases can occur as a genetic condition.

The relief at finding out that the condition had finally been diagnosed evaporated when the couple was told by the doctor that there are no treatment options available for Rickets patients in Kerala. Moreover, none of the doctors they visited could identify what kind of rickets the children were suffering from.

“We consulted doctors in two medical colleges and two private hospitals, but none of them could identify what kind of rickets my children have, though all of them were sure that my kids have the disease,” Shafna said.

At one of the hospitals they visited, the doctor said that the only thing they could offer the children were Vitamin D tablets. Other treatments including surgery, were not available. Upset about the news, the family simply sat in the hospital asking for some solution.

“We did not leave the hospital though they asked us to go. We did not know what to do. They said there might be treatments outside Kerala. We don’t even have the money to travel outside our district,” says Shafna.

Shafeeq, who is a welder in a workshop, is the only breadwinner for the seven-member family. Though the couple owned a house, after the children were born it was sold to pay off debts.

“We had lot of debts. During the pregnancy, Shafna developed some heart problems. A lot of money was needed for Shafna’s and the children’s treatment. Though we had many financial problems after they (kids) were born, we were so happy. But now I don’t know what to do. I have spent everything I had for the treatment of my wife and kids. Now they say there is no treatment also,” Shafeeq says.

Though the triplets are now two years old, they are not yet able to stand or walk. Besides, in their small house with cramped rooms, it is dangerous to leave the three children free to move around, as the smallest injuries would result in fractures.

“One of them has breathing trouble. Even if we hold them a little tightly, it hurts. It is painful to look at their face when they cry of pain,” Shafeeq says.


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