Srinagar: On Tuesday morning, the tenth day of lockdown in Kashmir over coronavirus risk, 10-year-old Sameer’s father tried to board a cab to collect lifesaving medicine for his son from SMHS hospital in Srinagar, above 50 kilometers away from their home in Kulgam’s Homshalibugh.
Sameer needed anti-haemophilia blood factor urgently as he had suffered sudden internal bleeding followed by unbearable pain. But with strict travel restrictions in place, the cab driver was not allowed to go beyond the area’s bus stop, despite showing the prescriptions provided by the Haemophilia Day Care Center of SMHS Hospital.
The family then went to a local hospital but the authorities there refused to help them.
“We approached the Chief Medical Officer for an ambulance, but she refused to help us citing the lack of a backup vehicle in the hospital,” said Abdul Rahid Bhat, Sameer’s father.
Sameer’s uncle arranged a private vehicle to go pick up the blood factor instead, but CRPF and policemen stopped him and turned him back as well.
Like Sameer, there are hundreds of haemophilia patients in Kashmir who are unable to get treatment because of the lockdown. According to the Haemophilia Society of Kashmir, patients are finding it hard to get blood factors during emergency, especially due to the unavailability of blood factors at district hospitals.
At least 332 haemophilia patients are registered with the Haemophilia Day Care Centre at SMHS Hospital, most of them children living in far-off villages. The patients usually travel long distances to reach Srinagar for getting the blood components.
“Police and paramilitary forces are not allowing us to reach the hospital to get blood factor for our children,” said Mukhtar Ahmad of Verinag village in south Kashmir.
“When we try to contact the nearby hospitals, they usually refuse to help us,” he added.
Ahmad’s brother is suffering from this rare blood disorder since childhood. He said that for many days he has been trying, but failing, to get the blood factor, and now his brother is bed-ridden, his joints are bleeding internally, and the pain is unending.
Syed Majid, President of Haemophilia Society of Kashmir, who is himself a haemophiliac, said the lockdown had left most of the patients trapped inside their houses.
“Our immune system is weak and doctors have advised us to not venture out due to the greater risk of getting infected. We are in huge distress because it hard for us to go anywhere for treatment,” Majid said.
“Our society tries to reach out to many patients but it is impossible for us to reach every patient with just one ambulance,” he added.
Adfar (name changed), a female patient from Lolab, told Kashmir Reader that she was forced to approach a nearby police station for help rather than a hospital.
“Unfortunately, hospital authorities do not help us during emergency,” she said.
According to Adfar, the disorder is such that she may bleed to death if the blood factor is not given.
“I had to plead before a police officer at Sogam police station to arrange the blood factor for me. Luckily, he was courteous enough to help,” she said.
She said that the police officer called his colleagues at Police Station Karan Nagar, who collected the blood product from SMHS Hospital and delivered it to her home.