While today is not officially WHD, the Hemophilia Patients Welfare Society
(HPWS) Lahore kindly celebrated it today so we could attend. Lahore is the lush capital city of the Punjab province, and with a population of 10 million, the second largest city in Pakistan. It was a wonderful celebration. Attending were patrons, all the doctors who assist patients with bleeding disorders, the HPWS board, and the Punjab Health Minister Muhammad Iqbal, who pledged to give greater assistance to those suffering with bleeding disorders.
An amazing array of about 150 patients attended: a young woman with VWD who had ovarian cysts and almost died but did not, due to one of Project SHARE’s donations; a young boy with hemophilia in great shape thanks to Ms. Faiza, the HPWS’s wonderful physical therapist; a baby who had a head bleed and sadly developed hydrocephalus and retardation–he was tenderly cradled by his devoted mother; a factor I deficient family whom we have pledged to help. I am happy to say the success stories by far outnumber the tragedies thanks to the dedicated care of the HPWS team. I was especially impressed by how the HPWS is grooming young men and women with hemophilia and VWD to assume leadership of their organization. Not an easy thing to do when there is limited factor and resources.
After the celebration and speeches came lunch, a Q&A, much hugging, smiling, sharing, curiosity. The patients, all Muslims and mostly poor, seemed genuinely touched that we had traveled all the way from the United States.
After the event, Dr. Shahla, who has spearheaded the founding and development of HPWS Lahore, and who herself has VWD, organized a fantastic trip to the Pakistan/India border to witness the “Flag Ceremony,” a ceremonial military show on both sides of the border of India and Pakistan, which are separated by only five feet called “No Man’s Land.” The spectacle was complete with goosestepping Punjabi militia, bugle blowing, shouted commands, flag waving, and tremendously cheering spectators on both sides, who cried “Long Live Hindustan” in reply to “Jiva Jiva Pakistan!” It was thrilling to see the iron gates of both countries open for one hour and for both sides to mirror their moves alternately in a mock display of military might for the crowds.
(Photos: World Hemophilia Day, Lahore, Laurie with girl with VWD who was operated on with SHARE donated factor, “Jiva jiva Pakistan!” at the India/Pakistan border.)