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Indian girl with swollen head needs a ‘miracle’

A desperate Indian father whose young child suffers from a condition that caused her head to swell up to an enormous size said yesterday he is praying for a “miracle” to save her life.
Eighteen-month-old Roona Begum was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, in which cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the brain, just weeks after her birth in a government-run hospital in remote Tripura state in northeast India.
The potentially fatal illness has caused Roona’s head to swell to a circumference of 91-centimeters, putting pressure on her brain.
Her father, Abdul Rahman, 18, who lives in a mud hut with his family in the village of Jirania Khola, told AFP he prays for “a miracle” that will save his only child.
“Day by day, I saw her head growing too big after she was born,” said the illiterate laborer who works in a brick-making factory.
Doctors told him to go to a specialist hospital in a big city such as Kolkata in eastern India to get medical help but Rahman, who earns 150 rupees ($ 2.75) a day working in the brick plant, said he does not have the money to take her.
“It’s very difficult to watch her in pain. I pray several times a day for a miracle — for something to make my child better,” he said.
The US government’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates about one in every 500 children suffers from hydrocephalus. The most common treatment involves the surgical insertion of a shunt system to drain cerebrospinal fluid away from the brain and toward another part of the body where it can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Roona now is confined to her bed and unable to move her head but she is a playful child, quick to smile and giggle and is able to move her limbs, according to her father.
She has outlived an initial prognosis by doctors that she would survive only two months. But her mother, Fatema Khatun, 25, says the little girl’s health is getting worse and that she urgently needs help. “She is deteriorating. She eats less and less, vomits often and I can see that she is getting thinner,” Khatun told AFP.