By Bilal Kuchay
Dramatic visuals show the plight of a four-year-old Pakistani boy whose belly has swelled up to the size of a beach ball.
Rehan Imtiaz from Dost Mohammad Jarwar, a remote village in Pakistan’s Sindh province, has been suffering from Hirschsprung which is causing his belly to grow at an abnormal rate.
Born as the first child to Mohd Imtiaz, 29, and Razia, 24, Rehan was quite a normal baby at the time of birth.
“He was born as a normal baby. I first realised his swollen belly when I was giving him a shower at the age of one.
“Initially, we ignored his condition. But, after regular pain we took him to a local faith healer,” said Razia.
The young mother says that after visiting the faith healer, Rehan got some relief in the abdomen pain but his belly started growing again, this time at an abnormal rate, when he turned three.
Mohd Imtiaz, who works as a rickshaw puller and earns less than £3 a day, said: “At the age of three, Rehan’s belly started growing at an abnormal rate.
“We took him to a government hospital in Badin where doctors gave him medicines and proposed some tests – for which we had to travel to Karachi. But due to the lack of crucial funds I couldn’t take my son to Karachi for the tests.”
Hirschsprung’s disease, occurs in about one in 5,000 live births, causes poo to become stuck in the bowels. It mainly affects babies and young children.
It means the nerves that control the movement of faeces are missing from a section at the end of the bowel, which means poo can build up and form a blockage.
This can cause severe constipation, and occasionally lead to a serious bowel infection called enterocolitis if it’s not identified and treated early on.
Symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease are usually noticeable from soon after a baby is born, although occasionally they’re not obvious until a child is a year or two old.
The lack of funds forced the young parents to keep relying on faith healers.
“For years we remained dependent on faith healers but his condition only kept worsening.
“We are worried about Rehan’s future as his belly is growing at a fast pace. The condition is causing him lot of pain. He can’t walk or sleep well,” Imtiaz added.
Rehan’s parents say they can’t sent him to school, fearing other students would bully him.
However, a social activist Mohammad Arif has come to the rescue of the child and has started a fund raising campaign on social media for his treatment.
Within two days, Arif has raised over £360 in donations.
The Samaritan said: “Initially, we required funds to hire an ambulance to take him to Karachi as he can not travel in public transport. Also, funds were required for their stay in Karachi.
“Today, we will take him to Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Karachi. I told the parents that don’t need to worry about the funds.
“We will not let Rehan die for lack of funds even if his treatment costs millions of rupees.
After Arif’s help, Rehan’s parents are hopeful that their son could be treated and lead a normal life.
“We are hopeful that our son can have a good future if he will be treated for his condition in Jinnah Hospital in Karachi,” said Imtiaz.