An Iraqi girl got a lease of life on Thursday after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the UAE's Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, paid for a life-saving Dh8 million injection.
Laveen Ibrahim, 18 months, suffers from spinal muscular atrophy type 2 – a genetic neuromuscular disorder that affects the nerve cells that control voluntary muscles.
Laveen came to Abu Dhabi a few weeks ago for her treatment after she lost control of her neck muscles and most of her body.
Her only treatment was a Dh8m injection called Zolgensma, but the injection was inaccessible to Laveen's family who had neither the money to buy it nor any health insurance to cover the cost.
Injected into the vein, Zolgensma is a one-time treatment and takes an hour to administer.
The family made a desperate plea to find a sponsor and it was then when Sheikh Mohammed stepped in to help the little girl’s family.
Laveen received the injection at Al Jalila Children's Specialty hospital in Dubai.
"This was a cure for my daughter and for us. You have no idea how much we suffered and how difficult these past few months were on all of us," Ibrahim Al Kutayshi, the child's father, who works for a local marine shipping company in Iraq and frequently travels to the UAE, told The National.
Sheikh Mohammed covered the cost of the treatment and donated Dh8 million for the treatment after seeing the heartbreaking video posted by Laveen's mother.
In the video, Massar Mundhar said doctors found her daughter had spinal muscle atrophy and that she had only a few months to live.
“The treatment is available in Dubai at Al Jalila Children's Hospital, but we can't afford it,” Ms Mundhar said in the video.
“I appeal to you to look at my child with all humanity and mercy. Please agree to take her under your care so she receives treatment in your kind and giving country."
She said the disease could reach Laveen's lungs and kill her.
“Your doors are open to humanity and I am a mother who is racing against time for her child. I have tried and continue trying and I am now in your land, a guest in your land with my daughter,” she said.
"We’ve reached a day where a probe has reached Mars, and that was a sign of hope to me. God willing, my call will reach you.”
Her video went viral and people tagged Sheikh Mohammed.
"We are forever indebted and thankful to Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai, the government, Al Jalila hospital and the doctors there. Words cannot express how overjoyed we are. My daughter now has a chance to live and we can't wait to see her get up and run and grow up with her sister and live a regular life," Mr Al Kutayshi said.
"Our lives were returned to us. You can't imagine the feelings of a mother and father being told that their daughter will have a chance to survive," he told The National.
The family, who have two daughters, Laveen and Lareen, 6, live in Iraq, but will remain in Dubai for three months for physiotherapy and follow-up treatment.
To date, only two children have received Zolgensma, while four others are scheduled to have the injection. The children who were treated were from Egypt and Lebanon. Those on the waiting list are Turkish, Saudi Arabian, Iraqi and Syrian.