An eight-year-old boy suffering from a rare form of giantism, which caused his hands to grow disproportionately large, has undergone dramatic surgery to reduce them.
Mohammad Kaleem, who lives with his parents in a small village in Jharkhand State, eastern India, was born with the condition which saw his hands and arms grow until they weighed a colossal two stone between them.
As a result of his illness, Kaleem has been bullied by his peers and was even refused admission to school because his hands would “scare” other children.
The family has also suffered the wrath of superstitious neighbors in their remote village, who believed Kaleem’s large hands to be the result of a curse, branding him a “devil’s child”.
“The school teachers said they could not take Kaleem. They said his huge hands will scare other kids. So he was denied admission,” said Mohammad Shamim, Kaleem’s father.
As Kaleem grew older, it became increasingly difficult for him to even complete his daily chores, such as dressing himself, eating and taking a bath.
His parents earn a modest wage, even for the impoverished area in India where they live, and they have not been able to cover proper care for Kaleem on their £15-a-month salaries.
Towards the end of last year, the Mohammad family were introduced to Dr Raja Sabapathy – a pioneering hand surgeon who is known for his expertise in micro surgery. Dr Sabapathy took on the challenge to help improve Kaleem’s hands.
“Dr Sabapathy gave us hope after seeing Kaleem. He was the first doctor who told us that some sort of remedy was possible to help our son,” said Haleema Begum, Kaleem’s mother.
“We decided to go for just one hand to begin with. This was our best way to assess the condition,” said Dr Sabapathy. “At the same time, we did not want to affect the boy’s mobility.”
“There is no treatment for this boy. He is a devil’s child. This is just because his parents must have committed a wrong deed at some point in their life,”said Mohammad Kaleem, Shamim’s brother. Other villagers also believed in the myth. But Kaleem’s parents decided to follow Dr Sabapathy’s advice.”
But in their village, Shamim and Haleema were faced with the challenge of overcoming negative reactions of family and neighbours so that Kaleem could settle back into normal life.
Shamim is now optimistic that his son will finally be able to have a normal schooling.
Mohammad Sabir, the local school headmaster, said: “We know Kaleem. He had tried to take admission in the school, but for certain reasons we could not accommodate him. We’ve now had news that he is being treated.”
“With improvement in his hand, we feel that he can begin classes. We are also instructing our schoolchildren to not bully Kaleem.”