UPDATE: 'The Surgery Went Perfectly': Indian Girl With Severe Hydrocephalus Has Life-Saving Operation (PICTURES)
An 18-month-old girl suffering from a severe case of Hydrocephalus is to have free life-saving surgery.
Roona Begum’s condition – also known as “water on the brain” – caused her brain to swell to three times its normal size.
Doctors say Roona is lucky to be alive, with most sufferers not surviving beyond 12 months.
But thanks to the intervention of medics at India's largest private hospital in Gurgoan, near Delhi, she is set to have the excess fluid drained in a procedure taking place on Friday.
The procedure is only possible after Roona and her poverty-stricken family, from the rural village of Agartala, were flown free of charge to the hospital by the Fortis Foundation.
Doctors hope the exploratory procedure will relieve the pressure and allow them to properly examine Roona before deciding on further treatment.
Dr Sandeep Vaishya, Director of Neurosurgery at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, who is treating Roona, said: "I was surprised when I saw the baby for the first time. Even though I had seen her pictures, I wasn’t expecting the head to be so big.
"Her head measures 94 cm, in similar cases the average measurement is around 50-60 cm.
"Her head is swollen to an extent that she is not able to close her eyes completely. We have an opthamologist looking at her eyes, so that there are no complications there.
"We are hopeful that she will make a complete recovery. The challenge is to drain her brain fluid in a gradual manner, so as the brain gets used to it."
This week the little girl was allowed to rest in her state-of-the-art hotel room, being paid for by the foundation, as she received round-the-clock care.
Roona's mother Fatima, 24, told Barcroft Media from her daughter's bedside: "When she was born, I wondered why do children of poor people like us suffer this fate.
"Why is fate cruel to us? Why do rich people who can afford to cure their kids never get diseases like this?
"Before she was born, I went to a doctor twice. Once when I was one month pregnant and than when I was six months pregnant. We did not have money to go more often.
"She was born through a caesarian operation and the doctor told us we had to take her out of Agartala to get her treated. But we did not have any money at all."
But the devastated mother revealed some family members had been less than supportive.
Fatima added: "When she is better, I hope my in-laws accept her. And she can have the love she deserves from her grandparents."
Roona's father Abdul, 19, said: "Even though our neighbours come and play with her, my parents have refused to acknowledge her existence, since she was born."
Abdul, who works as a labourer thanked those who had helped Roona, saying: "I cannot find work every day. Its hard enough to earn for food, so her treatment would have been impossible had it not been for the press and hospital people who have helped us.”