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29 November 2023

I was told I will die by the age of 17: Emirati

Khalid, left, with his best friend Hamad who is also a Thalassemia patient at Dubai Thalassemia Centre. (Supplied)

By Muna Ahmed

Khalid was a little boy when his parents told him: “You have no future.. You will die at the age of 17.”
Everybody in the family knew of his condition – Thalassemia.

The whole family told his parents that there is no point in sending him to school. He should just try to play and enjoy life because soon he will die.
The word 'death' was Khalid’s companion since he was a little boy.
“When I was a little boy, they told me you will never go to university, get married, have children or life. They told me you have no future.

"Thus, I quit school and did not complete my education. I did not live a normal childhood. I was just on standby and waiting for the day when I would turn 17 and die.”
Something unexpected happened to Khalid.

“My cousin is the same age as me. We both had thalassemia and we both did not care about our health and did not take our medicines regularly.

"When we turned 17 years, my cousin died of the disease. And I  knew I was the next in line. I waited for days and months till I turned 18, and I did not die.

"Then I waited and waited and I turned 19 years and did not die. Then again I waited and turned 20 and was still alive. On that day, I realised that I won’t die if I take good care of myself, and that what I did.”
When Khalid’s cousin died, Khalid stopped taking care of himself, and also stop taking his medicines.

“I was not regular. I would skip my medication for two to three months. This affected me badly, and the iron collection on my organs was 12,500. I reached a critical condition, and was about to lose my life.”
With determination, Khalid decided to change his lifestyle and take care of himself. He started taking all his medication on time and managed to lower the iron collection level on his organs from 12,500 to only 100. “This was an achievement, and I feel satisfied and proud of myself.”
Today, Khalid is 37-years-old, healthy and lives his life like any other healthy person. “I have to get blood transfusion every three weeks, but otherwise I am fine and healthy. I don’t suffer from any problem.”
Khalid urged all parents and families of thalassemia children not to discourage them and never let them lose hope in living a healthy and normal life.

“My cousin lost his life because of that, and I was on the edge of losing my life too. I hope families start playing bigger and better roles in the lives of their children. And never make them lose the hope of living a normal life. We are normal. We are not sick.”