Friday, September 19, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Indian Baby's Swollen Head Down About 15 Inches After Risky Surgery 'It Feels Really Good To See Her Now, She Looks Beautiful And Happy' (VIDEO)

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Aug 29, 2013 05:14 PM EDT

Baby Roona with her father.
Baby Roona with her father. (Photo : Reuters)

An Indian baby suffering from a condition that caused her head to swell up with cerebral fluid is recovering from corrective surgery.

The condition is known as hydrocephalus, and 18-month-old Roona Begum was diagnosed shortly after birth, CNN reported.

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"Day-by-day, her head started growing bigger, she stopped wanting to eat, she would just lie in bed, it became very difficult for us to carry her and take her anywhere," the baby's father, 18-year-old Abdul Rehman, told CNN.

Roona's head grew to about 37 inches, which is triple the size of an average newborn's; doctors said she would only live for a few more months.

Things weren't looking good for the baby as her brain filled with over two gallons of excess liquid. Roona's head was so heavy she could barely move. Roona's skin was stretched so tight it "pulled her eyelids over her eyes," blinding her.

Roona's family lives in a small Indian village, and her father makes only about three dollars a day. They took care of her for over a year in their small hut because they could not afford treatment.

"She had such a big head, it was scary for people to see her," Fatima, the baby's mother, told CNN. Fatima would draw eyebrows onto the baby with kohl in an effort to make her look more normal.

Word got out about Roona's condition when a photojournalist took a picture of her. Two Norwegian students, Natalie Krantz and Jonas Borchgrevink, raised $60,000 for Roona's treatments.

Half of the money was used to pay for part of the procedure and the other half will be sent to the baby for aftercare. The hospital covered the other half of the operation's expenses.

Even the hospital was shocked by the baby's condition.

"We had never seen anything like that and we were completely clueless as to how we'd go about treating her. There was no precedent of treating a child with such an extreme case of hydrocephalus. We learned as we went," neurosurgeon Sandeep Vaishya, said.

The baby was extremely malnourished, and had a bed-sore-like infection on the back of her head.

The doctors performed a cerebral shunt procedure on the baby. In the operation, medical professionals inserted a "drainage tube" to keep the fluids flowing properly. Hydrocephalus is caused by a blockage or overproduction of fluid.

Due to her small size and poor condition, the surgery was extremely risky. The doctor's even had a close call and almost lost her at one point.

Now, five surgeries later, Roona's head is down to about 22 inches.

"It feels really good to see her now, she looks beautiful and happy," Fatima told CNN. "We want Roona to read and write once she grows up. Both of us (mother and father) are illiterate so we don't want her to be like us. We want her to have a bright future,"

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