Wai Yan Kyaw came onto the BCMF program in 2010 after being referred to the program by Dr. Ana from Australia (who was volunteering at the Mae Tao Clinic). He was the first case of Thalassaemia that BCMF had taken on and treated. Wai Yan Kyaw’s journey is inspirational and the positive outcome has paved the way for other children with this blood disorder to be treated.
Wai Yan Kyaw’s father is raising his two sons on his own and does daily odd jobs to provide for them. His youngest is 9 and is being looked after by extended family since they moved close to the Thai-Burma border in February 2010.
The burden of health costs has been great and Wai Yan Kyaw’s father has had to borrow money from members in his community. Wai Yan Kyaw has not seen his mother for six years as she left them to remarry and start another family.
Wai Yan Kyaw came to the Mae Tao Clinic in 2010 suffering from an enlargement of both his liver and his spleen, which has been increasing in size since he was six months old. He had his first blood transfusion when he was one and they have been required more frequently as he has grown – from one transfusion every 4 months to once a month. Wai Yan Kyaw was having his transfusions done in Burma until his family moved close to the border. Up to 3 units of blood were required and each visit cost US$80-US$100. This cost included admission, paying for people to donate blood and blood screening. His treatment at the Mae Tao Clinic has been free. [More information on Thalassaemia]
Wai Yan Kyaw had a splenectomy on 2 July 2010 in Chiang Mai. Prior to his surgery he had been coming across the border every month to the Mae Tao Clinic to have his haemoglobin checked and to have blood transfusions when he needed them.
Wai Yan Kyaw’s father says that everything went really well in Chiang Mai. The doctors and nurses were very friendly and they came to check on Wai Yan Kyaw every day. He found it hard because he could not communicate with them but he says that he didn’t need to because he saw they were looking after his son. Wai Yan Kyaw said that he liked the doctors because they were nice and brought him food and even toys.
Wai Yan Kyaw says that before the operation he was very tired and he felt his mobility was restricted by his grossly distended abdomen. Now he can play and run. He feels much freer and has a lot more energy. His father is very happy to see such an improvement – his son has not had to have a blood transfusion since the operation! He goes on to say that before the operation he was not able to go to work because he had to stay home and look after Wai Yan Kyaw. When he did go to work, he used to worry about Wai Yan Kyaw all day. Now he does not have to worry anymore. He will be able to return to work and Wai Yan Kyaw to school. He is very happy that his son is well again. When they went home after his surgery, his grandparents could not believe it when they saw him. He looked so well.
Wai Yan Kyaw used to go to school in Burma but only reached 1st standard because of his illness. He loves school and he will soon be able to resume where he left off. He likes learning to write. He was so inspired by his trip to Chiang Mai that now he wants to become a doctor when he grows up.
Wai Yan Kyaw’s father says that he is very, very thankful for the support that the donors gave his son. He is happy his son had this opportunity. He considers his son’s donors as ‘virtual’ parents because they took care of his son (even though they are far away). Without their help and the help of BCMF he could not afford the surgery and treatment. His family (grandmother and grandfather) were not able to help and they felt very sad. Now they are very, very happy because someone was able to help them.
BCMF is extremely happy with the successful result of Wai Yan Kyaw’s treatment. We will continue to monitor his progress and consider expanding funding to more children from Burma with this condition.