His glinting eyes and mischievous smile are extraordinary. This is because ten-year-old Samir Ahmed has just survived a terrifying ordeal: hydrocephalus or fluid buildup in the brain.
Being the second youngest member of a large family, Samir hails from Larkana. He started experiencing crippling headaches, shivering fits, agonizing pain and even difficulty in walking. When he started to suffer from temporary memory loss and to cough up blood and faint, his family was prompted to seek medical aid, but the hospital near Larkhana was unable to help them.
Other patients at the hospital were moved by Samir’s family’s tribulation and suggested that the child be admitted to Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) in Karachi. His distraught family also realised AKUH was their safest bet. One of Samir’s older brothers, aged 27, and his mother traveled to Karachi in the hope of bringing the child’s plight to an end. Dr Shahzad Shamim, an assistant professor and consultant neurosurgeon at AKUH, duly saw the child. Dr Shamim also referred the case to the Patient Welfare Programme, as he realised that the family may be unable to bear the cost of the treatment.
Dr Shamim performed an emergency ventriculostomy surgery to remove the excess fluid in Samir’s brain. Further complex surgery was carried out along with two stressful months of tests and medication. Samir made excellent progress after this and was free to go home.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later, the poor child was rushed back to AKUH emergency services where Dr Shamim investigated him anew to discover Samir suffering from intracranial hemorrhage, a condition which creates intracranial pressure in the skull compressing surrounding brain tissue. It is fatal and so the patient had to undergo a second life threatening operation in a matter of months. Dr Shamim and his team successfully conducted the operation.
Samir’s health has been progressively improving over the course of his time at AKUH under the watchful care of the excellent medical staff at the Hospital. His medical expenses have been almost entirely covered by the Patient Behbud Society of AKUH and the Patient Welfare Programme.
His brother’s shoulders sag with relief and he is overcome with emotion and gratitude as he says, “I can pray for other patients, when I see them suffering. And hope that I can be of assistance to them. The AKUH has helped us tremendously.”
Almost a year of treatment later, Samir is like any other bubbly kid. He laughs as brightly as any person with a healthy life ahead of them would.