Living With Aplastic Anemia In A Time of War

Abdulatif al-Jasem’s family was fleeing the violence in Syria when the seven-year-old began bleeding heavily. Just as they were about to make their escape on a smuggler’s boat, the other passengers grew concerned and made Abdulatif and his parents get off. Abdullah, Abdulatif’s older brother, stayed on.

Now, Abdulatif is in need of a bone marrow transplant to help save his life, and his best match, Abdullah, is thousands of miles away in Germany.

Abdulatif has acquired aplastic anemia, a condition in which the bone marrow doesn’t produce enough blood cells. If not treated promptly, aplastic anemia continues to get worse and can be fatal.

The story of Abdulatif and his family is one of many, most of which go overlooked. Thankfully, Zeynap Kurmus Hurbas can’t turn a blind eye.

The Turkish woman is being called “the angel without wings” for the work she’s done to help Syrian refugees. She has organized food trucks and aid deliveries, and often met those directly affected by her efforts–like Abdulatif and his family.

Since she first started helping refugees, however, she has also tried to distance herself from the personal encounters.

“I get upset. I used to go in and know everybody’s names…but then they start dying.”

Yet, that hasn’t stopped Hurbas from doing all she can to help the members of the al-Jasem family. Not everyone is Zeynap Kurmus Hurbas and not everyone has aplastic anemia.

But there are more people out there like Abdulatif than you might think. Hopefully, there are also more people willing to pitch in. The more we all do our part, the more we ease the weight for everyone.

What resources do you know of to help people get access to the healthcare they desperately need? Share with us below!

James Ernest Cassady

James Ernest Cassady

Though "Ernest" is a family name that's been passed down for generations, James truly earned his middle moniker when, at the age of five, he told his mother that "laughing is stupid unless EVERYBODY is happy." Since then, the serious little bastard has been on a mission to highlight the world's shortcomings (and hopefully correct them). In addition to his volunteer work at hospitals and animal shelters, James also enjoys documentaries and the work of William Faulkner. He is originally from Oklahoma.

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