By Bilal Kuchay
Doctors in Pakistan have drained 12 pints of fluid from a seven-month-old girl’s skull to reduce the size of her head – which had grown bigger than a football.
Amna Noor from Abbottabad in the eastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has the rare condition Hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid inside her skull.
The condition left the infant immobile, unable to eat or sleep properly and with a head that measured 40 inches in diameter.
But Amna underwent surgery last week, during which five litres [12 pints] of fluid were drained from her head.
Dr Nazir Bhatti, Professor and Neurosurgeon at Ayub Medical College Abbottabad, said: “Amna’s head was nearly 40 inches in size when she was admitted in the hospital.
“However, after we drained five litres of fluid from her skull, her head size has been reduced to a large extent.
“The drainage of fluid has left a pile of skin to be treated.
“Currently, we can’t tell exactly how much the head size has been reduced by but I’m sure it would be nearly half.
Dr Bhatti added: “If she responded well, a second surgery will be performed after very soon.”
Amna was born to parents Nisa Malik, 36, and Malik Amaan, 38, through a normal delivery but after a gap of nearly 10 years since the birth of their first child, a son.
The baby was quite normal at the time of birth but her head started growing at an abnormal rate soon after she turned one month old.
Amna’s parents took her to Ayub Medical College, where doctors diagnosed her with hydrocephalus.
Figures estimate one in every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus, which can kill if the fluid increases pressure on the brainstem.
Amna’s father, Malik Amaan, who works in a transport company and earns a mere £80 a month, had to gather funds for his daughter after doctors told the distraught parents that their daughter need to undergo a surgery that would cost them nearly £1,900.
Malik said: “With the help of family and friends, we had collected almost £1600 for Amna’s treatment.
“However, Dr Bhatti didn’t charge us any fee for performing the surgery. We had to only pay for the medicines, tests and equipments required for the surgery which cost us £900.”
As the first surgery underwent fine, Amna’s parents hope their daughter can now enjoy a normal life growing up.
Nisa said: “Amna’s condition had left her immobile and she was not able to eat or sleep properly.
“Doctors have given us hope that our daughter will be fine. I’m continuously praying to God for her recovery and hope she will have a normal life like other children.”
“We will never forget those who contributed for our daughter’s treatment and stood with us and supported us during this tough time.”
FACT BOX: WHAT IS HYDROCEPHALUS?
Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can damage tissue.
Aside from an abnormally-sized head, other symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and vision problems.
Hydrocephalus’ cause is usually unknown but may be due to issues with cavities in the brain or an underlying health problem that affects blood flow, such as heart disease.
It can also be acquired by damage to the brain due to a head injury, stroke or tumour.
Treatment is shunt surgery, which involves implanting a thin tube into the brain to drain away excess fluid to another part of the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
If untreated, hydrocephalus can be fatal due to increased pressure compressing the brainstem, which is responsible for regulating heart rates and breathing.
A patient’s prognosis after surgery depends on their age and general health.