“Our greatest wish for our daughter is to get better and go to school,” say the parents of Lah Ku, an 11-year-old girl who lives in Thailand.
Lah Ku came to our medical partner, Burma Border Projects (BBP), with thalassemia—a genetic condition in which the body does not make enough red blood cells, and the existing red blood cells do not transport oxygen efficiently. This is problematic because red blood cells carry oxygen to all of the body’s organs. When an organ’s oxygen supply is inadequate, the organ cannot function properly, and symptoms such as fatigue, pallor (pale skin), and slow growth rates can result. To help control these symptoms, individuals with thalassemia receive frequent blood transfusions.
“Lah Ku is visibly jaundiced and currently has frequent nosebleeds and fever, headaches, and abdominal pain,” reports BBP. “Immediately after she receives her monthly blood transfusions, she plays a lot at first and has good energy, but her energy decreases over time, and most of the time she is very fatigued.” BBP adds, “Lah Ku does not attend school because the pain from her condition is too great.”
“Now,” BBP tells us, “Lah Ku’s spleen is enlarged and needs to be removed.” An enlarged spleen, known as splenomegaly, is common in individuals with thalassemia. The spleen is responsible for destroying old and defective red blood cells. In thalassemia, the rate of destruction is increased in response to the abnormal and transfused red blood cells in circulation, and the spleen grows larger due to the increased activity.
Lah Ku’s parents work as farmers and barely earn enough money to pay for food and daily expenses for themselves and their four children. As a result, there is no money to cover Lah Ku’s medical care.
With $1,015 in funding, Lah Ku can undergo a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) and receive seven days of hospital care and follow-up appointments after surgery. “Surgery will relieve Lah Ku’s pain and allow her to attend school,” shares BBP. “She will have more energy and a much better quality of life, as she will no longer require monthly blood transfusions.”
Let’s help fund surgery for Lah Ku!