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Bahraini musician May Alqasim, who recently suffered from a severe health scare that started a community-wide blood donation appeal, is now preparing for a life-saving liver transplant.
She is coping with post-traumatic stress, has been placed on a strict meal plan, mulitiple medication and is preparing to travel to Antalya, Turkey, for the operation.
She is urging fans, family and friends never to ignore their well-being and be persistent when it comes to seeking answers to health issues.
“If you really don’t feel right, don’t stop looking for answers,” she said. “I’m hoping to achieve a healthy new life and a new chance at it. This adventure to Turkey is going to be challenging and I am determined to beat this!”
The 29-year-old singer and vocal coach has cirrhosis, scarring of the liver caused by long-term liver damage. She was diagnosed with the disease in 2019 after multiple misdiagnoses and discovered the condition was genetic.
While most of the time, liver damage can’t be fixed, if caught early, there are treatments that can help.
May, who works with 1LOVE Productions putting together several ‘passion projects’ such as the 1LOVE PARTY online event aimed at raising people’s spirits, said: “For the longest time, I knew deep down that something was off. I felt it in my gut.
“I always felt weak and lethargic. I was not digesting food well and just generally felt lousy. No one appeared to have a clue why.”
Symptoms of cirrhosis include fatigue, weight loss, nausea, swelling legs and stomach and the risk of bleeding and bruising easily.
She added: “Liver cirrhosis is no joke and can get to the point of no return. There are many reasons for it and mine happened to be the one most beyond my control.
“After so many hospital visits, it was confirmed that my cirrhosis was genetic.”
On September 24, May was admitted into the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) Royal Medical Services, Military Hospital from her Riffa home after feeling extreme sharp pain coursing through her, leaving her feeling faint and shaky.
The condition had caused her veins to burst in nine different places.
“I was put straight into intensive care and had lost so much blood that I was critically ill,” she added. “My heart was stopping and I had to be put on breathing support.”
The medical team and her consultant physician and gastroenterologist Dr Sagar Janardhan Adkar found that her haemoglobin levels had dropped from 12 to 2 due to the amount of blood loss. She apparently had also drained all the blood banks of her A- blood type.
May’s family and friends rallied to her cause sending out messages via WhatsApp and through social media platforms asking for immediate A- blood donations. Her story went viral and even trended on Twitter.
May was overwhelmed when she found out. She said: “I had no clue what was going on. My case was a code red and no one knew if I would be able to stop bleeding internally. I only found out later and simply felt so loved and supported.
“What would I have done without everyone by my side, praying and fighting for me? The number of donations was overwhelming. It also made people realise how important it is to know their blood type in case of an emergency. My faith in humanity has been restored.”
May is no stranger to giving back as the production label she works on falls under the OneHeart-Bahrain umbrella, a community-driven initiative founded by Birthe van der Heijden to spread kindness and love throughout the kingdom.