Indian doctors discharge baby with swollen head

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Doctors on Friday discharged a one-year-old Indian baby who underwent multiple surgery to correct a rare disorder that caused her head to nearly double in size, a neurosurgeon told AFP.

Roona Begum endured several surgical procedures which saw doctors at a hospital near New Delhi drain fluid from her head in a life-saving operation and dramatically reduce the size of her skull.

"Roona's health has improved significantly.... We have discharged the baby this morning and she is fit to travel," neurosurgeon Sandeep Vaishya said.

Roona was born with hydrocephalus, a potentially fatal condition that causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain.

Her condition had caused her head to swell to a circumference of 94 centimetres (37 inches), putting pressure on her brain and making it impossible for her to sit upright or crawl.

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Her head shrank to 58 centimetres after procedures conducted between April and July at the hospital run by the private Fortis Healthcare group.

Vaishya, who heads the hospital's neurosurgery unit said he expected her head to shrink further after conducting a final surgery in about six months' time.

"When she came here, she was almost immobile. Now, she is moving her head from side to side easily, it shows that her neck muscles are already getting stronger," he said.

"The next big step will be for her to sit up.

"Neurologically as well the baby shows several signs of improvement. She can see better, her limb movements are much better," he added.

Roona's parents were too poor to pay for treatment, but publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer at their home in the remote northeastern state of Tripura prompted the hospital to offer to treat her for free.

The photographs also triggered an outpouring of support worldwide with prospective donors contacting AFP and other news organisations, enquiring how they could contribute to a fund for her treatment.