When his four-year-old dog Brandy passed away last year of a cardiac arrest, Partth Thakur came to what he calls was a 'life-changing' conclusion - it does not matter how much time you think you have, anything can happen any time. Brandy's untimely death was the second most shattering blow that life had dealt him. The first was his condition, thalassemia.
When he was born, his doctors apologised to his parents profusely because they had failed to intimate them, both thalassemia minors that if they had a child, he or she would most likely to have thalassemia major. People diagnosed with thalassemia minor usually don't face many difficulties in their lives, but if two thalassemia minor people have a child, chances of the offspring having full blow thalassemia are very high.
People diagnosed with thalassemia minor usually don't face many difficulties in their lives, but if two thalassemia minor people have a child, chances of the offspring having full blow thalassemia are very high.
If you are a thalassemia major, it may appear that you are living on borrowed time. That is a battle that will unquestioningly leave some serious scars on a kid. In an interview to the popular Facebook community Humans of Bombay, Partth said that while growing up, he believed that he would not survive beyond 16 or 17 years of age.
Partth is 20-years-old now.
What Brandy's death did was change Partth's perception on life. From biding his time and awaiting his supposed death, he decided to make every moment he lives count. He also wanted to change the general mindset that suffering from thalassemia meant an early death sentence. So, he started The Wishing Factory, an Vadodara-based NGO dedicated to fulfilling the presumably last wishes of thalassemia and leukaemia patients.
"You see, wishes might fade away but memories stay back. We want them to create memories," Partth told HuffPost India. "These memories give them strength and make them fight harder," he adds.
Since its inception on January 1st 2016, The Wishing Factory has fulfilled 101 wishes. The 101st wish was of a girl who wanted a helicopter ride, because she wanted to see Mumbai from the sky. "We actually got that done," Partth exclaims triumphantly.
From afar it might appear like a dream ride but a lot goes into fulfilling one single wish. The staff of The Wishing Factory--that includes seven executive body members and 123 volunteers-- try to make sure as many wishes get fulfilled with as few hiccups. Not only that, The Wishing Factory has collaborated with a few organisations and are together funding several healthcare and education initiatives. They also organise awareness camps that encourage people to get tested before getting married so that two thalassemia minors do not give birth to a thalassemia major child.
They also organise awareness camps that encourage people to get tested before getting married so that two thalassemia minors do not give birth to a thalassemia major child.
Once a request for a wish reaches them, the team spends considerable time carrying out a basic background check to determine why that particular wish must be fulfilled, among other questions. "Almost every wish gets fulfilled," Partth says. They also send volunteers with the patient whose wish is getting fulfilled.
When I ask what he actually means by 'almost', Partth says "Although we don't do it usually, some requests must be eliminated. For instance if a child below 18 years asks for an electronic gadget like an expensive smartphone, we believe we have grounds to refuse him. But then if you are above 18 years, then we fulfil those wishes also. We fulfilled one very recently."
When it comes to requests, Partth encourages people to go for non-materialistic wishes.
When it comes to requests, Partth encourages people to go for non-materialistic wishes. "I would rather have them requesting a trip or a meeting with a celebrity than an electronic gadget," added Partth.
This is because Partth and his team believe that this is not the last wish. People on their third or fourth stage of thalassemia can put up a good fight for several months to come. There was a man who was very unwell and wanted to go to Jammu and Kashmir, but the trip or rather the wish had to be cancelled because his doctors did not allow him.
"In fact, once your wish is fulfilled, you are eligible for another one in 18 months", says Partth trying to explain why he wants people to go for non-materialistic wishes.
He fondly recalls the wish of an eight year old boy who wanted to get married on a horse, while dressed as a bride. "That was definitely the strangest and cutest request we got," laughs Partth. "Mostly people request for bicycles. Out of the 101 wishes, 27 of them have asked for bicycles. Boys want cycles with gears and girls prefer ones with a basket in front", he adds.
Only thing is, just stop Googling. Stop thinking that you will die. Stop thinking that you won't be able to do anything because your body will not allow it.
Talking about celebrity wishes, Partth says excitedly, "There are two kids who want to meet Salman Khan." When I ask if that is likely, Partth says "Well, we have sent requests to Being Human and are now waiting for a reply".
"You know, no one should lose hope," adds Partth . "The way medical science is advancing, healthcare will go a long way. I used to believe that it is unlikely for a thalassemia patient to survive for more than 17 years but people here are going strong at 36 now! Only thing is, just stop Googling. Stop thinking that you will die. Stop thinking that you won't be able to do anything because your body will not allow it. Stop thinking that you will be fatigued. These are all myths. Everything depends on your willpower."