Until recently, 12-year-old Mahendra Ahirwar had a different view of the world to everyone else - not just figuratively, but literally. He was born with a rare medical condition, congenital myopathy, which made his neck muscles so weak that his head hung sideways, at an 180 degree angle, with the result that he saw everything the wrong way up.
“When kids play, I see them upside down,” said Mahendra. “I wish I could play too. If someone fixed my neck, it would change my life.”
Since Mahendra lives with his parents in a village in India where medical care is very basic, up until recently having his neck fixed has seemed to be an impossible dream. His parents had no chance of getting the money for the treatment, and visited around 50 doctors in India, who all said they could not treat Mahendra. His parents admitted they would rather he died than continued to suffer.
But divine intervention has come in the form of British woman Julie Jones, a mother from Liverpool, UK, who read about Mahendra last year and was moved to help. “I have a son and it upset me to see a little boy in such a state,” she says.
After setting up a Crowdfunder page on the Internet, Julie was stunned when donors helped her raise more than £12 0000 ( around $ 172140.00 ) for Mahendra’s treatment. A TV documentary has been made, showing how the money was used to help the young boy, and how Dr Raj Krishnan, an Indian spinal surgeon, provided his services free of charge. Dr Krishnan studied and worked in the UK for 15 years, but now works at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi. The orthopaedic consultant and his surgical team are not charging for their services, but Mahendra’s parents still have to find the money for the cost of the surgery and hospital consumable supplies. These expenses have been covered by the generous Crowdfunder donations.
It transpires that Mahendra has hypotonia, a muscle-wasting condition which is sometimes known as “floppy baby syndrome”, and while it is too late to resolve the problems with his limbs, Dr Krishnan has been able to insert a plate into the boy’s neck to keep it straight. This surgical intervention, along with an electric wheelchair provided by a mystery donor, has seen Mahendra’s life transformed - he is now able to sit up straight and look at the world properly for the first time. He may need more surgery in the future, but his prognosis is considerably brighter now than it was a few months ago.
Photo courtesy of www.howafrica.com