Bengaluru: Nine-month-old Akiyal’s father Farhan, an engineer from the Maldives, is all praise for Facebook.
“It was very difficult for us to generate funds for our son’s operation,” he says. “We could do it only because of Facebook.” Akiyal was born with a rare heart condition known as double outlet, right ventricle (DORV), a condition in which the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart, is located in the wrong place.
“It was a complex surgery in the sense that the child was born with one side of the heart not developed, undeveloped left pumping chamber and a large hole in the heart along with a blockage of the artery going to the lung. He required a complex repair job, which wasn;t being done in the Maldives,” says the child’s treating doctor, Adil Sadiq, Head Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Sakra World Hospital.
Farhan says, “It was not possible to get funds in the Maldives, so my family and I decided to go online and ask for help from the social media. We went ahead with creating a Facebook page for our son.” They started the Facebook page, ‘Help Akiyal — Save A Child’s Heart’.
“We promoted the page by paying five dollars, which implied that 20,000 Facebook users would see the page,” says Farhan. In no time, people across the world saw it and donations started pouring in. “The money that we used to promote the page time and again was less than 100 dollars, but we were able to raise Rs 8 lakh over the course of the year,” adds Farhan.
This digital media approach helped Farhan to get donations from anonymous altruists in Sri Lanka, Belgium, Maldives and even Bangalore. Those who could not donate sent Akiyal their earnest prayers and blessings. By the end of the year, the page had 4,388 likes and thousands of people had visited it.
“She is now fine and we would be taking her back home to Malidives in a few days,” says an elated Farhan.