Sunday, April 14, 2013

Water on the brain

On the cover of Rosamond Purcell's incredible book Special Cases: Natural Anomalies and Historical Monsters, is her photograph of the skeleton of a child with hydrocephalus whose skull has "opened like a flower." Without treatment, the condition – in which cerebrospinal fluid fills the cavities of the brain causing intracranial pressure – is fatal. The remedy is to drain the fluid with a shunt but that may not be affordable in developing countries. Such is the predicament of Abdul Rehman of Tripura, India, whose daughter Runa's hydrocephalus has gone untreated because he makes the equivalent of a mere $2.75 a day. "Day by day, I saw her head growing too big after she was born. It's very difficult to watch her in pain. I pray several times a day for a miracle -- for something to make my child better," he says. The head of the 16-month-old child now has a circumference of 36" (91cm) and she likely won't live very much longer (PHOTOS HERE – CAUTION). She certainly has brain damage, and likely suffers from seizures and blindness, among other symptoms. Her photos are now making the rounds in the weird news, but even if the publicity results in donations, it is too late for treatment. Draining off the fluid at this point will probably cause her brain to bleed or collapse.

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