Fear and Hope: An Interview
with the Mother of Aariz Atif
precious child with his loving parents
New York: When the doctor told
Shazia Quadri that God had blessed her with another son, the
young mother prostrated in thanks for a healthy child.
Two months later, her whole world turned upside down when
she found out that Aariz Atif, had hepatablastoma, a rare
form of liver cancer. Doctors in Karachi said his only hope
of survival was a liver transplant, not possible in Pakistan.
With the help and determination of her relatives in the US,
Shazia, her husband Atif, and their children Hamza and Aariz
were allowed to enter the US on human parole for Aariz’s
treatment. As a foreigner, he was not entitled to any Medicaid
and insurance companies refused to take his case.
As he underwent sessions and sessions of chemotherapy, with
the help of family and strangers the required amount of $300,000
was raised towards the transplant.
Doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh have
said that 18-month-old baby Aariz who now has a full set of
teeth and has started running is ready for his transplant.
As he awaits the day a liver will be available, his daily
chemotherapy costs at Stonybrook Hospital in New York continue
to increase. His current outstanding bill for his chemotherapy
and other tests has now exceeded $200,000. An interview with
his mother, Shazia gives a glimpse into his family’s
Pakistan Link: How did you feel when Aariz was born?
Shazia Jahan Quadri: I was so happy so I prostrated to Allah
for blessing me with another baby boy in good health. I was
in pain because of a second c-section but it disappeared when
I saw him. Everyone was very happy including my husband, and
especially my two-year-old son Hamza. He was trying to touch
his brother to feel his delicate skin and was asking where
he came from.
PL: When and how did
you discover the tumor?
SJQ: After a week we did his aqeeqah and everything was fine.
Then his stomach became hard and we thought it was gas. After
two weeks his stomach got bigger and harder. He got fever
and we took him to a child specialist. The doctor became worried
about his stomach but first gave him belly medications. Aariz
got better but his stomach got harder and bigger. The doctor
requested an ultrasound. Aariz was two months old. The report
said that some big mass was present which could be hepatoblastoma.
A Cat Scan further confirmed an hepatoblastoma, a rare childhood
liver cancer that affects less than a million children every
year. The tumor was large and reached into his pelvis.
It was April 10th, 2006 when we learned about his tumor and
the whole world turned upside down. I felt dead.
PL: How were you able
to come to the US?
SJQ: After receiving his chemo protocol, Dr.Shamvil told us
that he needed a liver transplant as the tumor got shrunk
but never went away. There is no facility of liver transplant
in Pakistan. My maternal cousin worked on getting a visa for
us, another cousin helped her and we were accepted on human
parole. Now I am here in America living with one of my aunts.
My uncles and aunts help us. My husband had to leave his work.
We gave up almost everything to come here.
PL: How have the hospital
SJQ: In Karachi in the Children Cancer Hospital, the staff
was cooperative and well trained. Here at Stony Brook Hospital,
the staff is also cooperative, especially a nurse named Lori
who is Aariz’s favorite. She is doing everything for
us. Aariz started learning things in the hospital, he spends
every day in the cancer center. He is growing while getting
chemo, he started walking in the hospital, he is very used
to the hospital and he thinks that it is his normal life.
PL: Tell us about his
SJQ: In the US, he has treatment every day. He will continue
to get this toxic chemo until the transplant. He has a serious
life-threatening infection in his lungs called aspergillus
for which he receives medicine everyday.
I stay all day except the weekends in the hospital; it is
a very long day for me and my son Hamza, who has made friends
with all the nurses.
PL: How old is Aariz
now? What does he do?
SJQ: Aariz is 18-months-old and started walking when he was
not connected to his medicine. When the nurse does a treatment
he yells “all done” and we all laugh. He plays
with the medical supplies and pushes the big pump with his
PL: Has your faith become
stronger in Allah?
SJQ: I already had a very strong faith in Allah but now it
is stronger. When I reflect on the four weeks I spent in Liaqat
National Hospital in Karachi, when Aariz was very sick or
when Dr. Shamvil told us that our only hope is a transplant,
I realize how Allah helped us and gave us courage to fight
and keep our hopes.
I truly believe “mayoosi kufr hai.” Whenever I
pray I say Allah, I have not given up hope and and I know
that You don’t like those people who lose hope. Ya Allah
give me “istaqamat.” It is this faith in Allah
which keeps me and my very supportive husband, going.
PL: What is your
SJQ: That insha’Allah I will see Aariz running around
me always, playing. My husband left work in Pakistan to come
here. It’s hard seeing the hospital bills getting larger
and larger and we have no insurance. We depend on our faith,
family and friends to get by each day.
I know there are many people who are helping us in this crucial
time. I am very grateful to them. Jazakumullahu khairan. Please
keep praying for Aariz’s health.
Note: If you are able to, please send a donation to help give
this baby a hope for life. Aariz’s bill at Stonybrook
Hospital in New York is more than $200,000. Checks or money
orders can be made to:
Save Aariz Foundation
17 Hamilton Avenue
Mount Vernon, NY 10552
To donate online and for more updates and information, visit