Canadians help Afghan boy with cancer
By LES PERREAUX
Namatullah (right) and his grandfather Taj Mohammed prepare for a trip to Pakistan where the boy, who is dying of cancer, hopes to get treatment in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (CP PHOTO/Les Perreaux)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian soldiers sent an Afghan boy with a massive tumour on his face to a cancer hospital in Pakistan early Thursday morning, where he will likely live out his final days in a little less pain.
Namatullah, a six-year-old boy with a large growth near his mouth that appears to have spread down his neck and into his organs, rode off just before dawn on an trip that was organized with military precision by Canadian troops and an Edmonton church. The boy came to the Canadian provincial reconstruction team site on the weekend with his grandfather, Taj Mohammed, looking for treatment for his malignancy.
The region of Afghanistan barely has functioning hospitals, let alone specialized cancer facilities or palliative care.
Touched by the boy's cries of pain and knowing a modern cancer hospital exists in Pakistan, Cpl. Brian Sanders, an ambulance driver at the camp, contacted his church in Edmonton to see if it could help.
The North Edmonton Christian Fellowship church raised $10,000 Sunday morning, with money still flowing in after news reports publicized Namatullah's case.
"Back in Canada you don't really see this stuff," Sanders said.
"You see it on the news, it's on TV, it's in the papers. We're almost numb to it."
"To see it first hand, changes everything. To have it show up on your doorstep changes everything."
"He is just one of thousands of boys, tens of thousands of boys who have similar situations."
The army organized travel to the Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. The boy left by taxi just before dawn. He will drive to Quetta, Pakistan where he will fly to Lahore.
"The entire army pretty much pulled together," Sanders said.
"We put a battle plan in place and by yesterday afternoon everything was in place."
Capt. Adrian Norbash, the army reconstruction team's doctor, said he is holding out slim hope the hospital might be able to treat the child.
"The tumour on his face is so huge, so destructive. It's invading his mouth, his eye," he said.
"I've got a really bad feeling. Having said that, we have no laboratory capability here and no imaging capability here."
"My impressions are purely a gut feeling. My diagnosis is by no means 100 per cent."
"I still have a small hope but not a large one. Just looking at him it looks scary, looks malignant."
A local Afghan non-governmental organization called the Urugzan Construction Association is taking charge of the boy's travel and treatment in Pakistan, with oversight by the army.
"I'll never be able to watch those kids on TV again without a having a different perspective on it," Sanders said.
I am glad they are able to make him more comfortable, it is too bad nothing was done until it was far too alte for that poor boy though
The soldiers and the church are good Samaritans. Too bad for the boy, though.
bump for a brave brave boy