Two-year-old Zailian Kaipeng, from rural north-eastern India, had been suffering with painful swollen eyes since he was two-months-old but his parents were too poor to fund treatment.
We, at Cover Asia Press, decided to set up a crowdfunding page on September 25, 2017, in hope we could help get Zailian urgent treatment. Hundreds of well-wishers came forward and a staggering £10,000 was raised in the first ten hours. We then made urgent arrangements for Zailian to travel to Delhi, India’s capital, for diagnosis and treatment.
Father Nerbanglal Kaipeng, 28, said: ‘A lot of people have come forward to help him. It’s such a blessing to know people like this exist in the world and I cannot thank them enough. Without their help we would not be sitting here with such amazing doctors.’
Zailian was eventually diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), and chemotherapy quickly began at Artemis Health hospital, outside New Delhi, northern India.
Dr Randeep Singh, head of oncology, at Artemis, said: ‘After examination of his bone marrow it was confirmed he was suffering from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and we started the chemotherapy. First we gave him oral steroids for seven days then chemotherapy injections started.
‘We will do a fresh bone marrow test after some time to see how his body is responding and confirm if the cancer is under control.
‘The drastic condition of his eyes was related to the Leukemia but right now we need to save his life. His eyes can only be looked at once we control the cancer. We suspect he will need chemotherapy sessions for many months to come and then we’ll review his situation. This is not an overnight thing. He has a long road ahead.’
Dr Sameer Kaushal, head of ophthalmology, at Artemis, explained that they are not sure if they can save Zailian’s vision yet.
‘The condition of his eyes was bad but that is not the primary problem at the moment,’ he explained. ‘The primary problem is the Leukemia which is the root cause of the eye problem. We’re not sure if he still has vision at present. We will have to wait for the chemotherapy to work and see how the body responds. If the oribital tumour goes down with chemotherapy, then chances of retrieving his vision are high.’
Nerbanglal and mother Chengmaite, 25, said Zailian was born a healthy but for the last two years they have watched his condition worsen, too poor to do anything.
Nerbanglal, who works as a daily labourer earning just Rs 150 (£1.70) a day, consulted local doctors about his swollen eyes but none could diagnose his condition only prescribe medicines and send him home. The condition pushed his eyes forward so much that the eyelids could not close, forcing his eyes open for more than a year.
In desperation Nerbanglal sold land for Rs 30,000 (£340) and the family cow for Rs 10,000 (£110) to pay for further medical fees, travel expenses and medicines but Zailian’s condition just continued to worsen.
Zailian travelled to Delhi, with his father Nerbanglal and grandmother Thaponti, 65, on October 12, 2017, and have lived in a guest house next door to the hospital since. Zailian’s mother Chengmaite stayed at home in a rural village, in Tripura, north eastern India, to take care of their other two children, brother Ringdamte, 10, and nine-month-old sister Naote.
Nerbanglal is still tense but grateful that people have come forward to help.
‘I have no idea what cancer is. I just know my son is very ill. Doctors have assured me that they will do all they can to make my child healthy again one day. They have told me not to be discouraged and have faith in God. I have faith in both God and the doctors.’
Zailian and his family need all the financial help possible to keep Zailian's treatment on-going in Delhi. Previous funds raised have already gone towards flights, accommodation, food, clothing, translator (as the family only speak a tribal language), hospital fees, medicines and any sudden complications such as infection that arise. But Zailian needs more. And now, doctors are considering the need of a bone marrow transplant but yet to be confirmed, and which will ultimately be decided by the family.
Anything you can donate will be greatly appreciated by the family.