Once a month, Sukanya and her mother get up before dawn and take a four-hour train ride from their small seaside town to Mercy Hospital. They do not return home until 1 AM the next day, but they wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything. Sukanya suffers from thalassemia, a blood disease common to many children in the Pacific Asia region. Mercy Hospital has provided monthly blood transfusions to Sukanya since she was two years old, funded by a Calcutta Mercy donor who pledges $35 a month.
Thalassemia tends to stunt a child’s growth, which is why 13-year-old Sukanya does not look a day over nine years old. She begins to feel worn out toward the fourth week of the month, which signals to her mother that it is time for her monthly treatment. She maintains a happy demeanor through each hospital visit, and is inspired to someday become a doctor so that she can help patients who share her disease.