Luka, Giorgi, & Maryam – Georgia

“I am going to be president someday,” seven year-old Luka says proudly. He smiles an impish grin and goes back to practicing his English letters.  His three-year old, tow-headed brother Giorgi tears around the room. Their 18 month-old sister Maryam sits quietly on her mother’s lap alternately sucking on a soggy biscuit and the earpiece of a toy stethoscope. The children look happy and healthy; all three are currently being treated for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB) in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The children’s father lies dying from DR-TB in a hospital room down the road.  By the time he received diagnosis and treatment for his disease, it was too late.  His physicians were appropriately worried about the children though, and all three were quickly screened for TB.  The news was not good: all three children were sick with the same extensively drug-resistant strain as their father.

But Luka, Giorgi and Maryam were fortunate.  Not only did they receive a timely diagnosis of DR-TB.  They were also offered immediate access to care through the government TB program in Georgia.  Today, all three children are thriving.  Their relieved mother states: “I am so thankful for the gift of my family. For my husband, really, there is no hope.  He will die here and he will die soon. [But] my children are getting better.  The people who help us are here. I am so thankful for the lives of my little ones.”

Story Collected by: Jennifer Furin (TB Research Unit at Case Western Reserve University) and Medea Gegia (National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease)