Doctors on Wednesday successfully carried out life-saving surgery on an Indian baby suffering from a rare disorder that caused her head to swell to nearly double its size, a neurosurgeon told AFP.
“The surgery went perfectly, much better than expected,” Sandeep Vaishya said after the procedure on 15-month-old Roona Begum, speaking exclusively to an AFP reporter inside the operating theatre at a hospital in New Delhi.
“It’s definitely a success but it’s too early to say what the quality of her future life will be like,” Vaishya added.
Roona, who was born with hydrocephalus, a condition that results in a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid on the brain, was found in an Indian village last month living with her parents who are too poor to pay for treatment.
Publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer in the remote northeastern state of Tripura prompted the hospital, run by the private Fortis Healthcare group on the outskirts of Delhi, to offer to treat the baby for free.
Roona’s condition had caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright or crawl.
The surgery, which involved the insertion of a shunt to drain the fluid out of her brain and towards another part of her body where it could be absorbed easily into the bloodstream, is the most common treatment for hydrocephalus.
The US government’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that about one in every 500 children suffers from hydrocephalus.
The pictures of Roona prompted an outpouring of support around the world with prospective donors contacting AFP and other news organisations, enquiring how they could contribute to a fund for her and her family’s welfare.