Hydrocephalus, known as ‘water on the brain’

Heartbreaking story of 18-month-old Roona who is suffering because her family cannot afford to pay for treatment

These heartbreaking pictures show a rural Indian girl of just 18 months old suffering from hydrocephalus, a build up of fluid inside the skull.

The family of Roona Begum, from the village of Jirania in India’s north-eastern state of Tripura, cannot afford to pay for her to be treated.

Her father Abdul Rahman, 26, works in a brick factory, where he earns the equivalent of just £1.79 a day.

hydrocephalus2

Babies who are born with hydrocephalus would normally require prompt surgical treatment to avoid being left permanently disabled.

But without the means to pay for a doctor, Mr Rahman and his family can only do their best to keep Roona comfortable as they watch her condition slowly and inexorably deteriorate.

Sometimes misleadingly known as water on the brain, hydrocephalus is caused by a build-up of the cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull, increasing pressure on the brain inside.

The brain constantly produces new cerebrospinal fluid at the rate of about a pint a day, while old fluid is released from the brain and reabsorbed into the blood vessels.

But if this process is interrupted, as in individuals with hydrocephalus, levels of the fluid can quickly build up and place pressure on the brain, causing headaches, blurred vision and, eventually, permanent brain damage.

‘Left untreated, if it progresses very quickly, the babies usually die because their brain tissues are unable to adapt,’ said Gill Yaz, health development manager for Shine, a UK charity set up to help people affected by hydrocephalus.

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