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“The Energy of Social Media”: Greater than $2M crowdfunded for medication to save lots of a little bit lady’s life


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Roqaia Reda, who’s quick approaching her second birthday.

Courtesy of the Reda household


Cairo — Roqaia Reda was born on July 13, 2020, in Alexandria, Egypt. She appeared a contented and wholesome child lady for her first six months, however then her mother and father began noticing some uncommon signs. After a sequence of checks, Roqaia was identified with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a uncommon degenerative neuromuscular dysfunction that leaves sufferers with out management of their our bodies.

In probably the most extreme circumstances, that are usually people who manifest in early childhood, sufferers typically die earlier than they attain their second birthday. Most individuals with average circumstances stay into maturity, however they’re typically left unable to stroll.

There are a pair medicine to deal with SMA in younger youngsters, the best being a single-dose, intravenous therapy of Zolgensma. The gene remedy, which was solely accredited to be used on younger SMA sufferers in america in 2019, is sometimes called the most costly drug on the earth. Producer Novartis places the worth tag for a therapy at about $2.1 million.

Whereas discovering that form of cash can be tough for many households all over the world, there may be additionally little time to take action, because it should be administered to the kid earlier than they flip 2.

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Roqaia Reda is seen in a household photograph along with her mother and father.

Courtesy of the Reda household


For Roqaia’s mother and father, it was not possible to fathom, particularly as her second birthday was simply a few weeks away. For perspective, the minimal wage in Egypt is about $145 per thirty days. A household with two mother and father on that form of wage must save for greater than 600 years to afford the therapy.

So, Roqaia’s household regarded for assist. A crowdfunding effort was launched on social media, and after a sluggish begin, it began gaining traction as actors, singers, athletes and different celebrities helped unfold the phrase.  

One of many folks behind the marketing campaign was Mohamed Wanas, an Egyptian IT engineer who lives in Dubai and runs a nonprofit group referred to as “The Energy of Social Media,” which helps folks with medical points. Wanas and his workforce of greater than 120 volunteers — the “Beehive,” he calls them — led the crowdfunding effort for Roqaia’s household.  

He advised CBS Information that whereas his group research and analyzes information to maximise donations by social media, it was a real-life glimpse into the household’s each day wrestle that actually made the distinction.

“Roqaia was the actual hero, she did the job,” Wanas advised CBS Information. “In one in all her mother’s stay movies, the lady fell and screamed, ‘Assist me, assist me!'”   

The second resonated on-line, and Roqaia’s father Mohammed Reda advised CBS Information that “donations had been doubling and leaping afterwards.”  

By June 25, after simply 23 days of fundraising, they’d not solely collected the quantity wanted for Roqaia’s therapy, however tons of of 1000’s of {dollars} extra. Nearly all of the donations had been small, a lot of them only a greenback or two, from regular folks — together with children who mentioned they’d emptied their piggy banks for the trigger.

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A picture posted on the Fb web page of “The Energy of Social Media” group, saying {that a} marketing campaign to boost some $2 million to get Roqaia Reda probably life-saving therapy for the degenerative neuromuscular dysfunction SMA had reached its aim. 

To mark her second yr, Roqaia will doubtless obtain the most costly birthday current she’ll ever get: An opportunity at main a traditional life. Her Zolgensma therapy is being despatched from Europe, and it needs to be along with her medical doctors earlier than her birthday.

However as neighbors joined Roqaia’s household to rejoice the victory, in addition they chanted in help of two different little ladies, twins who stay greater than 100 miles away. 

“Whose flip subsequent?” shouted one of many revelers amid the jubilation. “Alyaa and Farida!” got here the response from the group. “We will do it! We will do it.”

“I waited to be a mother for seven years, till we had been blessed with Alyaa and Farida,” the younger twins’ mom Aya advised CBS Information. “After they turned seven months, I observed regression in my Aliya’s motion, and after a number of checks and following up with a neurologist, she was identified with SMA.” 

Farida examined optimistic for the dysfunction not lengthy after.

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A picture shared by “The Energy of Social Media” group because it crowdfunds for twins Alyaa and Farida, who want an extremely costly medication to deal with spinal muscular atrophy.

The fundraising marketing campaign for Alyaa and Farida really began earlier than the one for Roqaia, however since Roqaia was older, her deadline for therapy was sooner, and Wanas mentioned “it did not make any sense to run each campaigns collectively. We needed to pause the one for Alyaa and Farida.”   

“This case is tougher,” he advised CBS Information. “You do not wish to be able the place you allow the mom with a alternative. Like, what if we gather sufficient cash for one shot solely, which one will the mom give it to?”

The numerous sum of cash left over from Roqaia’s marketing campaign — Wanas would not give CBS Information a precise determine — will go to the subsequent most pressing case, as per laws set by the nation’s Ministry of Solidarity.

Wanas believes it is going to go to the dual sisters.

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Twins Farida and Alyaa are seen in a household photograph. The Egyptian ladies want one of the crucial costly medicine on the earth earlier than they flip two to deal with their spinal muscular atrophy.

Household handout


“I’ve nice hopes,” mentioned Aya, the ladies’ mom. “Roqaia’s marketing campaign doubled the hope in my coronary heart.”

“That is our final hope to save lots of my infants’ lives,” she mentioned. 

Requested what her household would do if solely sufficient cash was raised for a single therapy, she advised CBS Information: “I do not wish to give it some thought.”

Each Wanas and Aya mentioned they had been assured they’re going to make it earlier than the deadline. They’ve about 50 days to scrape collectively the roughly $3.5 million nonetheless wanted to purchase each ladies the therapy.

After which there are others ready in line to profit from the work of Wanas and his workforce. A 3rd little lady, Celine, nonetheless has a couple of months earlier than her second birthday, however she’ll doubtless be subsequent after the twins.

Typically, Wanas will get a plea for assist too late. The household of a younger boy with SMA reached out not too long ago, however he’ll flip 2 in only a couple weeks.

“The procedures to do the paperwork and open financial institution accounts licensed to gather funds monitored by the federal government take time. So, when some circumstances come to us for assist with little or no time, we simply know, we won’t assist,” he advised CBS Information.

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A household photograph reveals Roqaia Reda at residence in Egypt.

Courtesy of the Reda household


The success of the marketing campaign for Roqaia has pushed vital media consideration, bringing to mild quite a few new circumstances and a flurry of native newspaper headlines. That is all serving to to gas the campaigns to save lots of these youngsters.

All of the households know that public consideration typically fades with time. However their youngsters’s medical circumstances will not. 



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