How one mother’s love captured hearts globally.

In Cairo, Egypt, a mother’s love and determination have sparked a global crowdfunding campaign that will make you rethink compassion.

The $2.1 Million Drug a Little Girl Needed to Survive

Roqaia Reda was born on July 13, 2020, in Alexandria, Egypt. She seemed a happy and healthy baby girl for her first six months, but her parents started noticing some unusual symptoms.

After a series of tests, Roqaia was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that leaves patients without control of their bodies.

In the most severe cases, patients rarely survive beyond their second birthday. Most with moderate cases live into adulthood, but they’re often left unable to walk.

There are a couple of drugs to treat the condition in young children, the most effective being a single-dose treatment of Zolgensma — only just approved for use on young patients in the United States in 2019. This drug is often referred to as the most expensive drug in the world, with a price tag for a treatment at a staggering $2.1 million.

Despite the astronomical cost of the drug, Roqaia’s mother, Rana, refused to give up hope. Not only was the price insane, but the medicine needs to be administered before the child turns 2, so time was working against them. She turned to social media to spread awareness about her daughter’s condition and to ask for help in raising the funds needed to purchase the drug.

How the Power of Social Media Saved a Girl’s Life

Her story quickly went viral, and donations began pouring in from around the world. People from all walks of life were moved by Rana’s determination and the love she had for her daughter. Many donated small amounts, while others gave more generously, but the contributions added up quickly.

Within just a few weeks, the campaign had raised over $2 million — enough to purchase the life-saving treatment.

Aside from the many who donated, the campaign has one person to thank for a lot of its success. Mohamed Wanas, an Egyptian IT engineer who lives in Dubai, runs a nonprofit organization called “The Power of Social Media.”

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Wanas and his team of more than 120 volunteers — the “Beehive” — lead crowdfunding efforts for people with medical costs, and spearheaded the effort for the Roqaia family. His group studies and analyzes data to maximize donations through social media, and operate mostly on Facebook where they raise awareness for various people in need.

The results of this campaign for Roqaia were astounding. After just 23 days of fundraising, they had not only collected the amount needed for Roqaia’s treatment, but hundreds of thousands of dollars more. The majority of the donations were small, many of them just a dollar or two, and even included kids who said they’d emptied their piggy banks for the cause.

The image above was shared to the group celebrating the financial milestone they reached. Against all odds, Roqaia will receive the medication before her 2nd birthday.

The Importance of Leading With Empathy and Compassion

However, the crowd that had amassed to help Roqaia was not finished. ‘Who’s next?’ someone asked in the group. After some searching, the group identified twin girls, Alyaa and Farida, who both tested positive for the same condition that Roqaia has. Their fundraising campaign actually started before Roqaia’s, but attention had to be diverted to Roqaia’s case she was approaching her 2nd birthday rapidly — posing a more pressing deadline for treatment. The group, Power of Social Media, has revealed that the surplus funds from Roqaia’s campaign will go to the twins.

“I have great hopes,” said Aya, the twin girls’ mother. “Roqaia’s campaign doubled the hope in my heart.”

“This is our last hope to save my babies’ lives,” she said. 

She has good reason to be confident, as the power of this online collective to rally both money and empathy is remarkable. The success of past campaigns has driven significant media attention, bringing forth many new cases and news coverage — all contributing to the success of future fundraising efforts.

No life saving medicine should be priced in a way that makes it impossible for people to receive care. Especially children in such dire need of treatment. That being said, the level of generosity and compassion shown by strangers across the internet is a beautiful response to the harsh realities of private healthcare, and hopefully can shine a light on the need for accessible medication.

As this story demonstrated, humans have tremendous power when working together, and when leading with empathy and compassion can really change lives.