Dharambir, 15, was labelled a boy possessed by evil spirits for years. Reason: He would bleed from his eyes, forehead, cheeks, hands, ears, nose, mouth and other parts of the body.
Belonging to a farming family in Palwal, Haryana, Dharambir did not know what hit him when he first started bleeding at the age of 10.
It started with a simple ear infection that could not be cured by the local doctor. A few weeks later, he started bleeding from his ear and then it just kept getting worse over time.
“People in our village shunned him; they thought he was possessed by some evil soul. We were scared for he would suddenly start bleeding, at times even three-four times in a day,” said Shyam Lal, his father.
For a couple of years, the family moved from one doctor to another in search of a cure for this peculiar disease but to no avail. Finally, in 2011 Dharambir came to a private hospital in Gurgaon.
“Even I was surprised to know about the case. My first reaction was of disbelief but his family insisted it was a disease,” said Dr Shashidhar TB, consultant paediatrician, department of ENT, Artemis Hospital.
It was an episode on Discovery Channel that finally drew Dr Shashidhar’s attention to a condition called haemolacria.
“It’s a rare condition and only a few people are reported to have this condition globally. There was no known cure. So after a lot of deliberation and consultation with other experts, I started his treatment,” said Dr Shashidhar.
Dharamir was put on a drug called Propranolol, which is used to treat hypertension. “It is known to stop bleeding so I took the chance,” he added.
It has been two years and Dharambir has not had a single bleeding episode. “A year ago, we stopped the medicine and he is under observation,” said the doctor. The boy’s family is relieved. “We had a tough time but life is getting back to normal. He has even resumed school. He will sit for his Class 10 boards next year,” said his father.