Poe is a five-year old boy who lives with his family in Shwe Koke Ko village of Karen State in Burma. In his free time, Poe likes to play with his friends and toys. He also likes to eat sweets. Poe does not go to school because of his condition.
Poe’s mother and father are divorced, and both are remarried. His father lives and works in Bangkok, Thailand and he contributes to Poe’s financial wellbeing by giving the household 5000 baht (approx. $167 USD) per month. His mother does not provide the family with any extra income. Poe stays with his grandmother and great grandmother from his father’s side. His grandmother works as a cleaner. The rest of the family does not currently have work.
When Poe was eight months old, he got a severe fever and his family took him to the Wang Pha clinic near Mae Sot, Thailand, which is the same place where he was born. He was admitted at the clinic for three days, but his condition did not improve. Doctors at the clinic told his family to take him to Mae Sot Hospital (MSH) for further investigation. The family immediately took him to MSH and he was admitted for one week. At MSH, he received a blood test and was diagnosed with Thalassemia, a blood disorder. He received a blood transfusion and after the transfusion, Poe felt better, but only temporarily.
His family went back for three follow-up appointments to MSH, where he had blood transfusions each time. When he was one year and five months old, the family could not afford going to MSH any longer, so they took Poe to Myawaddy Hospital. He received another blood transfusion and an IV line. He was admitted for three days at the hospital. Although he felt better after getting discharged in Myawaddy, since his condition is chronic, he needs regular blood transfusions to stay healthy.
It became increasingly difficult for the family to pay for Poe’s care, however, they decided to come to Mae Tao Clinic (MTC) for further help in 2016. Since then, he has received many blood transfusions at MTC, sometimes monthly and sometimes bi-monthly. With these treatments, he is able to survive. However, his condition also affects his spleen, the organ that filters blood. To prevent further problems, medics at MTC told his family that doctors need to remove Poe’s spleen. Since it cannot be done at MTC, he needs to go back to MSH to undergo the operation.
Currently, Poe has frequent bloody noses, coughs up blood, and has blood in his stool. He feels better after having a transfusion, but it wears off in the weeks following the procedure. When its nearing time for another transfusion, he feels weak and tired.
When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, Poe was adamant that he wanted to be a medic. “I want to help people,” he said. “When he sees people that are sick, he always tells me he feels sorry for them,” added his great grandmother.