By Bilal Kuchay
A Pakistani toddler with head almost the size of a football is desperately waiting for a life-saving surgery as doctors believe he is too weak to have an operation.
Jamila Ilyas, 29, gave birth to her fourth child, Ejaz Ahmed, on April 28 through a natural but premature delivery.
The three-month-old baby was not only born as an underweight baby but with a medical condition called Hydrocephalus that results in excess fluid build up on the brain.
The fluid had caused his head to grow at an abnormal size leaving the infant immobile and unable to eat or sleep.
“I was seven months pregnant when I delivered Ahmed. The baby was too weak, weighing just 4lbs,” said Jamila.
Jamila and her husband Mohmad Ilyas, 32, from Jamkanda village in the eastern part of Karachi say they had known their child would be born with big head.
“After conducting some tests during pregnancy, the gynaecologist told me that the baby would not be normal and will have an enlarged head. She even advised me to go for an abortion.
“But we rejected her advise as abortion is prohibited in Islam.
“We were praying to God that she is wrong but she had predicted it right. Ahmed was indeed born with an abnormally big head,” said Jamila.
As Ahmed’s head started getting bigger and bigger, the worried parents took the baby to Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre where he was diagnosed with the life-threatening condition.
The doctors, however, refused to perform a surgery as the baby is too weak.
“Doctors told us the baby is too weak for a surgery and we have to wait till he reaches the age of six months,” said Ilyas.
Ilyas, who works as a tailor and earns less than £5 a day, says he has no other option but to wait.
“With every passing day, Ahmed’s head is growing. We are worried about his condition but we don’t have the money to take him to a private hospital for treatment.
“It is very heartbreaking to see our child in such a condition. Our relatives and neighbours look at him as if he is a ghost boy,” said Ilyas.
As of now, the only relief little Ejaz gets is every two weeks when doctors extract fluid from his head.
Dr Lal Rehman, neurosurgeon at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, says: “This is a case of congenital hydrocephalus. The baby is too weak and cannot be treated with a shunt surgery.
“If he survives three more months and gains some weight, then we can perform the surgery. But, chances of his survival are slim.”
Hydrocephalus is a condition in which there is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain. This typically causes increased pressure inside the skull.
Older people may have headaches, double vision, poor balance, urinary incontinence, personality changes, or mental impairment. In babies there may be a rapid increase in head size. Hydrocephalus can occur due to birth defects or be acquired later in life.