How the Kindness of Strangers Saved One Boy’s Life
Editor’s Note: Please consider Sparing a Rose each Valentine’s Day. This valuable diabetes online community (DOC) initiative will directly help young people with type 1 diabetes survive.
Until 2022, there have been wide gaps in the data about the incidence and impact of type 1 diabetes across the world. According to estimates from the type 1 diabetes (T1D) Index by JDRF, almost 25,000 people just like Gahan live with type 1 diabetes in Bangladesh, but more than 38,000 additional people would still be alive today if everyone had access to a timely diagnosis, vital diabetes supplies and management education. An average young person diagnosed at age 10 will lose an estimated 47.2 years of healthy life. Globally, there are an estimated total of 3.86 million people that would be alive today if everyone had equitable access to diabetes healthcare and tools. Learn more at T1DIndex.org.
Gahan is an 8-year-old boy from a small village in Bangladesh. He is a smart young man and hopes one day to become an engineer. As well as working hard at school, he loves to spend time outdoors with friends, playing cricket and badminton in the street around his home. Gahan’s father is a fisherman and his mother is a homemaker. He is their eldest son and has a 5-month-old little sister.
When Gahan was 3 years old, his father was concerned to see his son losing weight, wetting the bed and often too tired to play outside with his friends. Over a number of weeks, Gahan’s health deteriorated until it became so serious that they thought their child might die.
His parents took him to the local hospital where they found that he had a very high blood glucose level. Staff quickly referred him to the Life for a Child partner center, which they knew would be better equipped to deal with Gahan’s diagnosis.
When the family arrived at the center they were disorientated and fearful.
“It seemed like the sky had fallen down on us. We felt hopeless,” remembers Gahan’s father.
Gahan was admitted to the hospital and doctors worked to stabilize his blood sugar. He spent 15 days and nights there, being nursed back to health while his parents received diabetes education.
It was a steep learning curve and Gahan’s father said, “We had no idea about type 1 diabetes.” But, like most families dealing with a new type 1 diagnosis, they were forced to learn quickly, test, trial and find their way through the complex maze of management.
Thanks to initiatives like Spare a Rose, the family does not have to worry about finding the money to pay for Gahan’s insulin and supplies. He attends the Life for a Child partner center every two months to collect his insulin and supplies and has regular checkups with the team there.
The program manager at the center said, “Because of the very low income of his parents, it would be very difficult for Gahan to manage his diabetes without the support of Life for a Child. His father said that the support is like a blessing from God.”
Gahan’s diagnosis means he has to be able to access insulin and blood glucose testing supplies every day. Can you Spare a Rose each February to help make sure Life for a Child can provide him with reliable and consistent care?
Read another piece to understand the impact of Life for a Child—Saving T1D Lives in Bolivia.