From A to B: Mutala’s Journey

Less than 200 miles separates the capital cities of Dakar, Senegal and Banjul, The Gambia on Africa’s west coast. Traffic regularly flows between the two communities, but for one young Gambian boy living with a bleeding disorder, the journey transformed his life thanks to the World Federation of Hemophilia (WFH).

Mutala Saidy is an energetic eight-year old boy from Banjul, The Gambia. He often plays outside with his friends after school. Just a short time ago, this was not the case when his knee began to swell after a bleed. He was rushed to the local hospital by his father Mafaal. Diagnosed with Hemophilia A, his father, with relief, believed it would only be a matter of time before his son’s condition improved. Instead, the swelling continued—as did Mutala’s pain. The doctor’s inability to relieve Mutala’s suffering caused Mafaal to grow more desperate to help his son. An internet search led him to WFH Medical Director Assad Haffar, who immediately suspected that Mutala might have been misdiagnosed. He asked Mafaal if it would be possible to bring his son to Dakar, Senegal.

Mafaal Saidy, Mutala’s father
“I feel really thankful about WFH for their help and support… without it, my son’s life would be at risk and he might even have lost his life, so I really appreciate their help.”

The Gambia is a small country, nestled within Senegal. But for those living with a bleeding disorder the difference in care across the border is potentially life-changing.

The Gambia does not have an international hemophilia treatment centre (IHTC). Senegal, thanks to the WFH, local and international healthcare professionals and volunteers, has one of the most advanced HTCs in West Africa. In fact, Senegal is home to one of the 31 WFH International Hemophilia Treatment Centres (IHTC) around the world and one of three on the African continent. As part of the WFH IHTC fellowship program, The Centre International de Traitement de l’Hémophilie in Dakar provides training for medical professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of hemophilia. Saliou Diop, MD, Director of the IHTC in Dakar, and past fellow of the IHTC fellowship program, is at the forefront of improving care for those living with a bleeding disorder in western Africa.

Diop, a volunteer member of the WFH Board of Directors, provided a complete evaluation for Mutala free of charge. There had indeed been a misdiagnosis—Mutala has hemophilia B, not A. Now with a correct diagnosis—and with donated factor on hand provided by the WFH and the HTC in Senegal—Mutala is no longer swollen or in pain and is back outside playing.

Mutala’s journey, from pain, misdiagnosis and despair to playing outside, proper treatment and hope could not have been possible without the WFH. The WFH currently does not have a presence in The Gambia, while Senegal has participated in WFH programming for several years. Diop was able to correctly diagnose Hemophilia B due to training in bleeding disorder care and treatment he received as part of the WFH International Hemophilia Training Center (IHTC) program fellowship. The lab technicians Diop relied upon to confirm his diagnosis through a rigorous and complete process received instruction at a WFH workshop. The treatment that finally stopped Mutala’s pain came from the WFH Humanitarian Aid Program.

Two hundred miles, two capital cities and two very different possible outcomes for young Mutala. The WFH is making a difference in many countries, yet there are still children and parents suffering needlessly. Your support will allow us to continue ensuring that no patient goes without treatment, regardless of where they were born.