A four-year-old boy who is suffering from a bizarre condition that caused his eyes to bleed and pop out is finally out of danger after a five-month-long treatment that was partly funded by the state and party by donors from different parts of the world.
After Sagar Dorji’s story had gone viral in international media, particularly in the UK press, the Indian media followed it up. The intense media coverage built pressure on the government of Assam and prompted it to fly the boy to a private hospital in Bangalore, some 2900 km away from his hometown.
Sagar Dorji, who hails from Lakhimpur in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, had bilateral proptosis (eye swelling) and loss of vision. The doctors at Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre diagnosed Sagar with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a type of blood cancer that rarely affects eyes to this extent. “We started chemotherapy on him, and after that, there was a good response. The swelling in the eyes came down, and bleeding has completely subsided.” said Dr Sunil Bhat who supervised the treatment of the boy.
The doctors did chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant on the boy. His sister Pinki, 9, donated her bone marrow. According to medical literature, there is only 30% chance of bone marrow match between siblings. Sagar was lucky in this case.
“Fortunately, his sister was a complete HLA match with him, and we proceeded for bone marrow transplant to cure him of Leukemia. He has already undergone successful BMT and is now discharged from the hospital,” said Dr Bhat.
Though there is no threat to Sagar’s life anymore, the doctors are worried about his eye sight. “We don’t know how much damaged has happened in the eyes. If the cornea is damaged, it can be fixed. But if the damage is from inside, it would be a challenging task to recover his sight,” said Dr Bhat, who has been tending to Sagar for the past four months.
The entire medical process has cost around Rs 2,10,000 so far. While the government of Assam took care of the treatment cost, money generated through crowd-funding — in which people from around the world, including the UK and the US — took care of all the miscellaneous expenses — such travel, accommodation and food expenses.
Sagar’s parents — Humbahadur Dorji and Kusum Dorji — are relieved to see their child smile again. “We are grateful to the state government and all the people who donated for Sagar’s treatment. It was really heartening to see how the people from across the world donated for Sagar’s treatment even before the Assam government decided to pitch in. I don’t know how to thank you all. But it is because of your help and generosity that my child is back from the jaws of death. We will remain indebted to you all our life for your generosity. Thank you again,” says Dorje, who has been in Bangalore for the past five months along with his wife and daughter.
Sagar’s elder sister Pinki is probably unaware of the fact how she helped save her brother’s life. But she is happy anyway. “Earlier, Sagar would cry all the time. After coming to Bangalore, he is not bleeding from his eyes and ears anymore. Doctors have told me that my brother would be able to see and go out to play with me soon,” says the nine-year-old.
Ask their mother Kusum about how she feels about her son’s recovery and her eyes well up. “I cannot express in words how happy I am. I am grateful to everybody who has helped in Sagar’s treatment process. He has been cured of life-threatening cancer. Now, I pray to God to return his vision too,” she says.
Though Sagar has been discharged from the hospital, the Dorjis are going to stay in the city for one more month to get his eyes fixed. The state would be covering the treatment of eyes, too.