A Bangladeshi boy who was slowly turning into a stone is all smiles after showing a miraculous recovery.
Mehdi Hassan, 8, was admitted to Dhaka Medical College, painfully covered in wretched, scaly skin on February 19.
The son of a van driver from a remote village, Hassan was suffering from an acute skin disease called Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis which meant his whole body had thick layers of itchy skin that made it difficult for him to even walk or touch anything.
After his heart-rending story came out in international media in January this year, a charity Help to Save Lives came in support of his devastated mother and sponsored his treatment at country’s premier medical institute.
Now, a month later and still under medication, Hassan can not only play with his favourite toys but can also eat with his own hands.
“After the news broke, some people from a charity approached us for his treatment and got my son admitted to the hospital. It has been possible because of people’s support. They are paying for his treatment.
“I am very happy now. It feels wonderful to see him without those rashes and blisters. He looks even more beautiful now. I hope he will be better soon,” said Hassan’s overjoyed mother Jahanara Begum.
Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis is a rare congenital ichthyosis skin disease that affects babies at birth and involves clumping of keratin filaments in skin resulting in reddening of sins with severe blisters.
As affected individuals get older, blistering is less frequent, erythroderma becomes less evident, and the skin becomes thick.
Because newborns with this disorder are missing the protection provided by normal skin, they are at risk of becoming dehydrated and developing infections in the skin or throughout the body (sepsis).
Dr Rashid Ahmed, Head of Department (Skin) at the Dhaka Medical College said: “His was a severe case of skin disease called Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis. The treatment is long-term and will continue for at least four years. We are content with the improvement so far and hoping to cure him completely one day.”
The third child of Jahanara, a brick kiln labourer and Abul Kalam Azad, a van driver, Hassan was born a perfect child, a seven pound cuddly boy in village Dona Raninagar in Naogaon district of north Bangladesh.
But twelve days after his birth, his parents noticed minor rashes in his body. However, the illiterate couple ignored the blisters thinking it to be mosquito bites.
Soon the blisters spread from his heel to abdomen and within three months, his finger, chest and back covered into thick skin.
The concerned parents consulted various local doctors, trying all forms of medicines including allopathy and homeopathy, to heal their son but nothing could control the outbreak. Frustrated with no diagnosis and soon out of money, the couple eventually stopped his treatment.
As Hassan’s condition deteriorated, he could not wear clothes and had to stay naked as the slightest of friction to his skin was excruciating.
Eventually, he was shunned by the villagers and made to live a life of a recluse.
Now with Hassan gradually improving, mother Jahanara has hopes he would be accepted by the community and could study with other children in school.
“Children used to detest him. People found him filthy and abominate him because of his condition. Whenever he went out, villagers got scared and said bad things to him. But now with his condition improving, I am happy people will love my son. He can also go to school and gain knowledge to become a big man,” said a teary-eyed Begum.
Help to Save Lives has so far managed to collect £ 2900 in donation and are sponsoring his treatment and his parents expenses at the hospital. As the treatment is going to continue for four years, the charity has vowed to help the parents in future and start another campaign if the need for money arises.