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Despite tough times, Singaporeans open their hearts and wallets wide to toddler with rare disease

Devdan's gene therapy treatment costs SGD 2.868 million. The fundraising for his treatment will be open for another 19 days through the donation link.

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Singapore — The family of little Devdan Devaraj, who was born with a rare condition that damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, recently thanked the over 30,000 donors who have opened their hearts, and wallets, and helped raise over $2 million for his medical treatment.

The young boy, who turns two in Oct, has Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). This condition, if left untreated, could lead to “progressive muscular weakness and trouble with activities such as breathing, speaking, swallowing, and walking.”

But there is a gene therapy treatment available called Zolgensma, which was approved only two years ago and costs US$ 2.125 million (around SGD 2.868 million).

Zolgensma “is designed to target the genetic root cause of SMA,” and will stop its progression “sustain the remaining muscle function needed” for young Devdan to survive.

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Devdan’s family admitted in his crowdfunding page on rayofhope.sg that the large amount is a big ask, but the alternative treatments would also be costly, and the one-time Zolgensma treatment would turn out to be less expensive in the long run.

“As parents, we want the very best for Devdan and for him to lead a life as ‘normal’ as possible. However, the staggering cost of Zolgensma is posing a huge challenge.

We humbly ask you to help us to raise the money for Devdan’s treatment,” they wrote, and many not only listened but gave generously.

As of Aug 12, over $2.4 million has been raised for Devdan’s treatment, or 87 per cent of the goal the family aims to reach by Sept 1.

Last night, the young boy’s family updated his crowdfunding page, thanking people for their “amazing support.” 

“More than 30,000 donors have stepped up to give Devdan hope,” his family wrote. 

Devdan’s father, Mr Dave Devaraj, a civil servant with the Ministry of Defence, told Coconuts Singapore, “We’ve seen humanity in Singaporeans and even people from abroad. This community spirit is truly touching and everyone had Devdan’s best intentions in mind.”

Even Member of Parliament Cheryl Chan (PAP – East Coast GRC) made an appeal on behalf of Devdan in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Aug 11).

Ms Chan wrote that she had  recently “raised the motion on expanding the scope of the Rare Disease Fund in Parliament, noting the reality that “most suffering from rare disease can only undergo treatments if there are avenues to raise funds.” 

“It has come to my attention that a young boy, Devdan, who suffers from Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy is in urgent need of funds to undergo a one-time cure for his condition. His parents are racing against time to raise $2.9mil for him within August. If past the treatment window (before he turns 2), he will have to undergo other forms of treatment for life and may be less effective in nature,” she added.

The fundraising for Devdan’s treatment will be open for another 19 days. Those who wish to donate may do so here. /TISG 

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Read also: Crowdfunding raises S$50,000 for Malaysian in a coma after motorbike accident on SLE

Crowdfunding raises S$50,000 for Malaysian in a coma after motorbike accident on SLE

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