His glinting eyes and mischievous smile are extraordinary. This is because 10-year-old Sameer Ahmed has just survived a terrifying ordeal: hydrocephalus or fluid buildup in the brain.
Being the second youngest member of a large family, Sameer comes from Larkhana. He started experiencing crippling headaches, fits, agonizing pain and even difficulty in walking. When he started to suffer from memory loss, coughing up blood and losing consciousness, his family was prompted to seek medical aid, but the hospital near Larkana was unable to help them. Other patients at the hospital were moved by Sameer’s family’s tribulation and suggested that the child be admitted to The Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi (AKUH, K).
His distraught family also realized AKUH, K was their safest bet. One of Sameer’s older brother’s 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, K saw the child. Dr Shamim also referred the case to the Patient Welfare office, as he realized that the family may be unable to bear the cost of the treatment.
Dr Shamim performed an emergency external ventriculostomy, a surgical procedure to divert the high-pressure fluid in Sameer’s brain. Further complex surgery was carried out over two stressful months of tests and medication. Sameer made excellent progress after this and was free to go home.
As fate would have it, a few weeks later, the poor child was rushed back to AKUH, K Emergency Services where Dr Shamim investigated him again only to discover Sameer was suffering from intracranial hemorrhage, a condition which creates very high pressure in the skull compressing surrounding brain tissue. The condition is potentially fatal and so the patient had to undergo a second life saving operation in a matter of months. Dr Shamim and his team successfully conducted the operation.
Sameer’s health has been progressively improving over the course of his time at AKUH, K under the watchful care of the excellent medical staff at the hospital. His medical expenses have been almost entirely covered by the Patients’ Behbud Society for AKUH and the Patient Welfare Programme.
His brother’s sighs 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, K has helped us tremendously.” Almost a year of treatment later, Sameer is like any other bubbly kid. He laughs as brightly as any person with a healthy life ahead of them would.