Anna – Pakistan

Anna was 16 years old when she was told she had tuberculosis (TB). Her father, with whom she lived in Karachi, Pakistan, had died a few months earlier of lung disease. The family was told that it was either lung cancer or TB that had not been investigated. Anna, meanwhile, was very ill and severely malnourished.

Anna’s doctors started her on first-line TB treatment. They also performed drug-susceptibility testing to see if she had DR-TB. Indeed, after two months, Anna’s culture showed she was resistant to isoniazid and pyrazinimide, two of the main drugs used in first-line treatment of TB. Anna’s doctors switched her treatment course accordingly.

Anna struggled with her DR-TB treatment. Her lungs were already in very poor condition at the start of her treatment, requiring her to have oxygen therapy at home. She hated having to take 11 pills a day, and felt extremely nauseated whenever she ingested the toxic drugs. Anna cried out in pain every time she received the injections that were also part of her treatment.

Anna and her mother also suffered emotionally as a result of her TB and her poor prognosis, despite the help of their treatment supporter. Anna became extremely depressed. She got upset when treated like she had a fatal disease, and irritated when others were concerned that she would pass it onto them. After a month of oxygen therapy, Anna’s doctor informed her that her respiratory distress was worsening, and that the end was near. She lost all hope of getting better. Anna died soon after, leaving her mother devastated.

Story Collected by: Farhana Amanullah (Indus Hospital)