Zin Ko was referred to the BCMF program in February 2011. He arrived at the Mae Tao Clinic in a severe condition and, once on the BCMF program, was transferred to Chiang Mai by ambulance. He has been undergoing chemotherapy and is responding well to his treatment.
Zin Ko is 6 years old and lives with his parents in Burma. He was born at Myawaddy Hospital, just across the border from Thailand. His mother was receiving antenatal care at the Mae Tao Clinic but she started labour pains in the middle of the night and could not get across the border to give birth at the Clinic.
Zin Ko has recently been diagnosed with acute leukaemia and is very sick. He had a complete blood count done at the Mae Tao Clinic and it was analysed by Mae Sot Hospital on 18 February 2011. He had been admitted to the child in-patient department at the Mae Tao Clinic for over one week with high fevers.
His mother said that Zin Ko has been very sick since mid-January 2011. His parents took him to a doctor in Myawaddy and they said that he probably had a liver problem so suggested they take Zin Ko to Myawaddy hospital. They had no money so they took him to a traditional healer who gave him powder to ingest. He seemed to get paler and paler and looked very sick. Nothing seemed to work. His parents did not have enough money to take him to the hospital so they bought him to the Mae Tao Clinic instead. His mother has known about the Mae Tao Clinic for a long time – they often went there when they were sick.
Zin Ko’s mother and father are both daily workers. They try to do whatever work they can pick up on a daily basis. She hasn’t been able to work since Zin Ko became sick in January. They live day-to-day and struggle to afford the cost of basic things: their children’s school fees; a roof over their heads and food for the family. Zin Ko’s father can earn 5,000 Kyat (US$5) per day when he can get work. He sometimes finds construction work and other times he works loading boats on the Thai side of the border with goods bound for Burma. He also works on farms. When his mother can pick up work, she buys and peels onions to sell at the market. Sometimes she can earn up to 5,000 Kyat per day, depending on the season and availability.
Zin Ko just started school last year and is in kindergarten. His older sister is nine years old and is in second standard. Zin Ko used to be a happy and playful child. Like many young boys in conflict-ridden eastern Burma, he likes to play with toy guns with his friends. He liked to run around with them and enjoyed playing at every opportunity. Now he cannot sleep as he is always feverish. He has no energy and he looks weak.
When his parents heard that he had leukaemia, they started crying. They were facing a hopeless situation as they had no money for treatment. They only have one son and if they couldn’t get treatment at the Mae Tao Clinic (through BCMF), then they didn’t know where they would turn. They have no other options. His mother says that she wants her son to get better. She knows he is very sick and is very sad but she hopes there is some way for her son to receive treatment.