Baby Aruna’s Story
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The last few weeks have been some of the busiest and hardest of my life. There were a lot of days when I woke up anxious and didn't know how I would possibly make it through the day. There are so many things about this work that are difficult and long and hard that I can't even talk about. But then there are moments like this one, with baby Aruna, that give me so much hope in humanity. And I think yes, this is why we do it. We all pulled together from around the world and saved this baby girl's life this week. I am so proud of us. I am so eternally grateful and so is baby Aruna.
The Beginning: November 5
Aruna is 18 months old and from a remote area of Nepal, where she went far too long without medical treatment because her young mother didn't have the money to go to a hospital. We found out about her case while her parents were staying with one of our neighbors across the street. We got her to Kathmandu as soon as we could. At first we weren't sure what was wrong with her and what was causing all the swelling, we only knew it probably had something to do with her kidneys.
As soon as she arrived in Kathmandu with her parents, our amazing Health & Wellness Administrator Meelan sprung into action. Private hospitals wouldn't take her because her case was so serious, so Meelan brought her to Kanti Children's Hospital and began the long wait for diagnostic tests. While Meelan sat in the hospital waiting, we posted this photo of sweet Aruna on social media and mentioned that Aruna and her mom didn't know anyone and they were scared. We said we could use the kindness of strangers, some homemade meals for the family, and support from anyone in the medical community who might know how to help her.
What happened next blew us away. In a matter of hours, the local Nepali community rallied to her cause. Senior doctors, social workers, and medical staff from Kanti and from all over Kathmandu started inquiring about her case and helped us get the care she needed. Nepali citizens in Kathmandu asked how they could contribute to her medical bills, asked what supplies they could bring to the hospital, and even showed up in person to support Meelan & the family.
It was one of the most inspiring things I've ever witnessed in all my years in Nepal. Aruna's story reached over 250,000 people in less than a day. What an incredible family and community you all are. Meelan and I were in tears. Thank you, thank you, thank you, especially for your thoughts and prayers and good wishes. If every child in the world had this kind of community caring for them and supporting them, think about how incredible it would be. I can't wait for the day that Aruna can look back on this day and see how her entire country of Nepal fought for her.
Change the world in the blink of an eye everyone! That's what we all did today. Together.
The Diagnosis: November 6
Aruna was diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome with severe damage to both of her kidneys. We are still waiting on further diagnostic testing to assess the condition and are working with an incredible team of doctors to come up with a treatment plan. The road to recovery will be a long one but we have hope that with proper care, Aruna's condition will improve. We started a fundraising page for Aruna for all the supporters who wanted to contribute from around the world. The money will go towards her extended long term care. Extra funds, if any, will be used to set up a scholarship fund in Aruna's name.
To make her stay at the hospital more comfortable, Meelan went out to buy formula, diapers, an electric kettle for warm water, clothes, and blankets. For those of you who stopped by to visit Aruna and her mom, thank you, we are so touched. We can't thank you enough for supporting us by giving what you can, making suggestions as per treatment plans, and introductions to the best doctors this country has to offer. Of course we are most grateful for keeping this sweet baby girl in your thoughts and prayers and for making Aruna and her mother feel less alone on what has been a very difficult journey.
The Update: November 10
Baby Aruna has been in the hospital for exactly one week. Meelan and I went to meet her today and were thrilled to see that for the first time in 8 months, she can open her eyes!!!! She's playing with her toys and eating solid food, also for the first time in 8 months. We even got a little smile out of her. Her condition has improved and she is responding well to treatments. Thank you to Meelan Karki for taking the lead on this case and to all of you from around the world who supported Aruna with funds, meals, visits, clothes, thoughts and prayers. It will be a long road and her prognosis is a difficult one but this was a really huge step.
Aruna has a young four-year-old sister, Sanju, who is still staying across the street from us here in Surkhet. She's being looked after by Geeta, one of the graduates of our Women's Center training program. Geeta has a big heart and has taken in several children other than her own. It's so wonderful to have a neighborhood and community of people to rely on and trust when we need them. Today our kids brought some warm winter clothing over to Sanju, who was full of smiles.
How You Can Help
For anyone who would still like to support baby Aruna, she and her family are in the Medical Ward of Kanti Hospital, in bed number 360. They could use meals every morning and every evening, especially thyme seed soup to help the mother produce healthy breast milk. There are lots of other families in this ward who are not doing so well, so meals that could feed several people would be wonderful! Contact Meelan Karki for details. We've also learned that some of the other families of babies in the hospital cannot afford their treatment or their stay, so we've been helping them buy medicine.
You can also contribute to her care financially either through our website (www.blinknow.org/arunas-care-fund) or locally through the Pulchowk branch of the Nepal Investment Bank, account number 01205030297301. She will have this condition for the rest of her life, and will need constant treatment for the inevitable relapses. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to date, we've already raised over $5,000!