Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hina Patel: Bakersfield sickle cell victim showed courage, sacrifice


Hina Patel is interviewed at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital in February by Dianne Hardisty

Today is Memorial Day, when we remember those who have died who stepped forward – during the present wars, or earlier wars – to defend this country. Often we just look at this day as a day off work, or the beginning of the summer vacation season. But it should be a day to reflect on the sacrifices that have been made.

I do not intend to take anything away from the sacrifices of our veterans. That is what this day REALLY is about. But we can also spare a few minutes today to think about the sacrifices everyday people make for their country, neighborhoods and families.

Today I am thinking about a young Bakersfield woman, Hina Patel . In February, The Bakersfield Californian published a story by Dianne Hardisty about Hina and her brave battle with sickle cell disease. Born with the affliction, she lived two decades with sickle cell disease.

When she spoke at the Houchin Community Blood Bank's annual recognition dinner in February for platelet donors, she thanked the Bakersfield donors for their life-giving generosity. She had been sustained by frequent platelet transfusions.

And when she agreed to be interviewed for a follow-up story, she was very, very sick. In fact, part of the interview took place in an isolation room at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital But Hina and her mother, Bhavana Patel, gave up their privacy and some of their precious final minutes together because they were committed to having people better understand the devastation of sickle cell disease and the need for people “at risk” to be tested.

Hina died on May 5, 2010. Despite her illness, she graduated with honors from Bakersfield’s Stockdale High School, was enrolled at Bakersfield College and had been accepted into the University of Pacific’s pharmacy program. She was a brave and accomplished young woman.

About the author: Dianne Hardisty retired as The Bakersfield Californian's editorial page editor. She now is a freelance writer in Bakersfield.

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