Baby Roona getting better after head surgeries

Baby Roona Begum got a second send-off from doctors before her second birthday. In November, she was admitted to hospital for the second round of surgery.

Her neck muscles will have to develop to support her still heavy head, which has been brought down to 57 cm, from an unprecedented 94 cm, doctors said.

Roona was born to a daily wage labourer in a village of Tripura. Soon after her birth, she was diagnosed with an extreme form of hydrocephalus – an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) with the cavities surrounding the brain. If untreated, it can result in brain damage and blindness.

Her brain was getting compressed due to pressure of the fluid, said doctors.

“In the MRI, the thickness of her brain parenchyma, which is key to the degree of maturation of the various brain structures, was barely a millimetre. Now that the fluid pressure has reduced it has become more than 1 cm,” said Sandeep Vaishya, a neurosurgeon who performed several reconstructive, life-saving surgeries on Roona in a span of eight months.

Roona’s mother Fatima Begum, 21, finds it difficult to contain the restless Roona who can now move her head sideways.

She has sparse hair and prominent surgical marks on her head, which is still larger than the average 38 to 48 centimeters.

After a series of ‘cranial vault remodelling’ operation, her head has become slightly more spherical in appearance.

 “Her eyes had sunk in. Now she is able to see and responds to toys,” said Vaishya, explaining how her sight was impaired.

The skin of her head had stretched too far, pulling the eyelids over her eyes.

In April last year, Roona was brought to Fortis hospital in Gurgaon. From May to August she underwent six surgeries.

Earlier, two Norwegian students had posted Roona’s photograph on a crowd-funding website to raise funds for her operation. But after the initial funding from the website, the philanthropic wing of Fortis took over.

“She is gaining weight, but it’s too early to comment on her mental health,” said Viashya. But her father, Abdul Rehman, 20, is elated because she has started mumbling ‘papa’. “People in the village used to say that she is an incarnation of a goddess, some said she has tumour,” he said. 

Doctors are hopeful that her cerebral fluid wouldn’t increase further. The signs so far are promising, they said.

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