Eyas Hasoun knew that throwing the bag of insulin overboard would mean his daughter’s death, but, faced with a crowd of men armed with assault rifles, he never really had a choice. She died on the fifth day without insulin.

“She was fading,” said Mr. Hasoun. “She murmured ‘Daddy, Daddy.’ I should have been able to take care of everything, resolve every problem, protect my child, sacrificing myself if necessary. But I couldn’t do it. And this fault will stay with me my whole life.”

The Hasoun family were fleeing war-torn Syria for Europe. There, they would be safe, and able to find better treatment for 11-year-old Raghad’s type 1 diabetes. They were smuggled first to Egypt, and from there the plan was to get a boat to Italy.

They did everything they could to take care of Raghad’s diabetes; every preparation was made. Her insulin and blood glucose testing equipment were divided into two separate bags, so that if one got lost there would be a spare. The bags were held by different people: dad Eyas, who owned a pharmacy in Aleppo, held one; mother Naila held the other.

But when the family went to board the boat, things took a turn for the worse: they would have to wade through 300ft of water to get to it. They had no choice but to try. Along the way, Eyas’s insulin bag was ruined by water, but Naila held hers over her head, keeping it dry all the way. They clung to the bag desperately. It was the difference between life and death for Raghad.

The family thought they were safe, until the traffickers in charge of the boat ordered them to throw Raghad’s insulin overboard. They begged and begged, but it was no use.

“My wife replied that it was more precious to her than her own soul,” explained Mr. Hasoun. “She begged for pity. The trafficker ripped it out of her arms and threw it into the sea.

“It was useless to resist – the traffickers were armed with Kalashnikovs. The water reached our necks. My rucksack was soaked with water.”

Desperate, Mr. Hasoun dived into the water to retrieve his daughter’s essential supplies. But the rucksack was soaked, the insulin useless.

“We were in the water and we managed to recover it but it was already compromised. The machinery didn’t work. The insulin was unusable.”

Raghad died on the fifth day without insulin. While the family was staying in Egypt, she had offered to stay behind, describing herself as the “weak point” that would compromise the family’s journey towards safety.

Her family refused. They wanted to be there for her, to take care of her, and make their way to Europe as a family. Faced with an unimaginably harrowing situation, they did the best they could.

It’s easy to forget that, in the most politically and economically troubled nations, there are still people dealing with type 1 diabetes. When we think of desperate migrants fleeing persecution and war, we rarely imagine them testing their blood glucose levels.

There were similar news stories following the devastating earthquake in Nepal back in April. Thankfully, the Indian Minister of State and Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology Dr. Jitendra Singh arranged for 75,000 vials of free insulin to be sent for Nepal’s diabetic population. It was an unexpected way to save thousands of lives.

Image: copyright Hasoun family; dailymail.co.uk.