The toddler with the 23-inch head: girl whose skull has filled with fluid – yet her parents can’t afford to get her treated

The toddler with the 23-inch head: girl whose skull has filled with fluid – yet her parents can’t afford to get her treated

Her head has swollen to 23 inches - almost three times its normal size - and she is now bedridden and in danger of losing her life

These heartbreaking pictures from rural India show the tragic suffering of a 14-month-old toddler.

Dhabuhi Parmar suffers from an extreme form of hydrocephalus, a rare condition where fluid accumulates inside the skull.

Her head has swollen to 23 inches – almost three times its normal size – and she is now bedridden and in danger of losing her life.

While she could be saved if she receives prompt surgical treatment, her parents cannot afford the expensive medical bills.

Dhabuhi Parmar suffers from an extreme form of hydrocephalus, a rare condition where fluid accumulates inside the skull
Dhabuhi’s parents Hitesh Parmar, 22, and mother Shakuntala, 21, both work as labourers in the fields in a remote village in Gujarat – and make just £60 a month.

The devastated couple, who are desperate to give their only daughter proper medical treatment, say they are waiting for a miracle to happen.

While she could be saved if she receives prompt surgical treatment, her parents cannot afford the expensive medical bills
Mrs Parmar said: ‘The weight of her huge head is so much that she cannot even sit or crawl. She has to lie down all day and always looks up, as she cannot turn her face.

‘I do not know why God is punishing us. I was very happy when she was born but now, I do not want to see her like this.

 I fear her head will explode one day
Dhabuhi’s mother, Shakuntala

Her husband added: ‘Watching her suffer like this is devastating.’

Dhabuhi, who has an older brother, Mehul, was born healthy. But at two months old, her parents noticed her head had become unusually large.

They rushed her to local hospitals where doctors, after diagnosing her condition, referred her to a bigger, better hospital in the city.

‘We took her to a few government hospitals in and around our village but they told us they are incapable of treating her and that we should take her to a better-equipped hospital,’ said Mr Parmar. ‘But the treatment in better hospitals is beyond our capacity.’

In desperation, the couple borrowed money to give Dhabuhi the medicine she needed, but it failed to work and her head continued to grow.

Dhabuhi (with her mother, Shakuntala, and brother, Mehul, now spends her days lying on a cot in the porch. Her father, Hitesh, said: 'We feel helpless and dejected, so we we stopped taking her to the doctor two months ago and vowed to give her all the comforts as long as she is alive'

‘We feel helpless and dejected, so we we stopped taking her to the doctor two months ago and vowed to give her all the comforts as long as she is alive,’ her father said.

Dhabuhi now spends her days lying on a cot in the porch.

Every morning, her devoted parents feed her milk with spoon and wash her before her grandmother, Geeta, spends the day looking after her.

She said: ‘I fear her head will explode one day. Doctors said she wouldn’t survive for more than a year. Her condition upsets me and pray for her recovery. She should not life like this.’

Dr Vineet Bhushan, paediatric meurologist Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi said: ‘Hydrocephalus is a rare condition where the cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain.

‘It can be present from birth or develop later in life.’

In severe cases, patients with the condition cannot speak and lose vision. Due to the weight of the head, they are unable to sit and are mostly bedridden.

The usual treatment for the condition is to plant a thin tube called a shunt into the skull.

This helps to drain excess fluid from the brain to other body cavities.

This condition is common among children and a patient, if operated at the right time, can be saved.

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