Daniel with his parents
At birth in May 2017, Daniel Adebisi was a bundle of joy to his parents. He was seen as a normal child, who showed no sign of ill health.
But by July, when Daniel was only two months old, his mother had known that something was terribly wrong with her child, the third in the family.
“His head began to swell and the growth was so obvious that every week, it looked bigger. I was really afraid. I had never seen anything like it in my life,” Daniel’s mother, Funke, told Saturday PUNCH.
The 37-year-old mother of three is unemployed as her petty trading business collapsed shortly after the birth of the child.
Her husband, Jacob Adebisi, is a technician, who gets by as a handyman in the neighbourhood.
Our correspondent met them in a one-bedroomed apartment where they live at the backyard of a house on Ajose Street, Shomolu, Lagos.
The environment speaks of how hard life is for the family. For them, the condition of their son is a burden too great to bear.
Funke cradled the head of her baby in her arms, struggling to keep him in a comfortable position on her laps as she fed him.
She looked at the child for a moment with a palpable sense of emotion that seemed to have overwhelmed her heart.
“My happy child turned to a strange being right before my eyes. We took him to the general hospital here at Shomolu, from there, the doctor referred us to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital,” she said.
At the hospital, doctors instructed Funke and her husband to take Daniel for a computer tomography scan.
Once that was done, Funke who had never seen any child with such a problem, was called into a hall and there, she met five other families, whose children had the same problem.
According to Dr. Wasiu Arowolo, who stood in for Dr. Bamidele Ayodele, a Consultant Neurosurgeon in charge of the case, Daniel was brought to the hospital “with features of progressive head enlargement since birth.”
He said, “The cranial CT scan was suggestive of Dandy-Walker Malformation with maximal hydrocephalus.
“He is currently being worked on for cerebrospinal fluid diversion, which has been largely impaired by scalp ulcerative wounds. He is now undergoing daily dressing of the ulcerative wounds.”
According to medical experts, Dandy-Walker Malformation affects brain development, primarily the development of the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that coordinates movement. In individuals with this condition, various parts of the cerebellum develop abnormally, while a fluid-filled cavity between the brainstem and the cerebellum and the part of the skull that contains the cerebellum and the brainstem (the posterior fossa) are abnormally large.
Doctors say this is why in the case of Daniel, the build-up of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus) has caused his increased head size (macrocephaly).
Daniel’s head has become so heavy that sides of his head have developed sores due to the pressure on them when he is laid down to sleep.
This is the reason the hospital has not been able to perform a surgery on the child. According to his doctors, until the wounds are healed, no surgery can be performed.
But the healing of the wounds on the head will not automatically give Daniel a pass to undergo the surgery that will allow him live a normal life as he grows older.
Over the last six months, he has been taken to the hospital seven times and out of those times; the fluid in his head has been drained three times.
Within this period, Daniel’s father said they had sold everything they could in their homes to pay for the treatment the child had received so far.
“The doctors said that compared with other children we met when we first went to LASUTH, my boy’s head is extra large. We have spent almost N450,000 so far, and this is by borrowing and running into debt and selling off some of our belongings. What am I doing with a television in my house when I want my child to live?” He asked.
“As poor as we are, anywhere we take Daniel to; we have to charter a vehicle because we cannot put him in a public bus. I want my child to survive. People that have been lending us money have been doing so as a godsend for us. Who gives anyone a loan at a time like this? But we have run into so much debt that no one gives us money anymore. This child did nothing wrong and this is why I would sell the last cloth on my back just to see that he survives.”
Daniel’s mother also appealed to the public for help. She became emotional as she explained that she had pleaded with God to transfer her son’s health challenge to her if that would be possible.
“He eats more than a normal child. This is a small consolation we have. But we need help, we know people are not under any obligation to help us but we would be eternally grateful to anybody who decides to extend the hand of help to us,” Funke said.
In recent times, many cases of children battling with hydrocephalus have been reported by the media.
But Consultant Neurosurgeon, Dr. Femi Bankole, told Saturday PUNCH that this did not necessarily translate to an increase in the case in the society.
According to him, the seeming increase in the incidence of such cases is evidence that more people are becoming aware that their children with such problems can actually be treated.
Bankole said, “We are seeing them more because of treatment possibilities and because people no longer abandon children with such problems.
“It is not a lifestyle problem. Some children are born with it and others develop it later in life. In this part of the world, most of the children who have it later in life or shortly after birth, develop it due to a variety of infections which may be acquired through delivery and birth processes.
“There is a treatment that would allow the child to live a normal life but the problem is that many children do not come for treatment early.
“After the diagnosis has been made, usually through a scan of the brain, then a surgical operation is done, usually by draining the fluid along with other procedures. The treatments are mainly surgical. After this, the child can live a normal life but this is really dependent on how quickly the child is taken for treatment.”
For the treatment of Daniel, the family is seeking donations from members of the public. According to them a medical consultant had told them that the cost of the treatment and rehabilitation of Daniel would amount to N1.2m
The details of the family’s account number are as follows:
Account number: 2043598595
Name: Jacob Taiwo Adebisi
Daniel’s father can be reached on his mobile line: 08174117419, while his mother can be reached on: 08035444662.