Doctors rule out surgery for now, concentrate on stemming haemorrhage

Three-month-old Afreen is showing no signs of improvement and continues to battle for her life, said doctors at the Vani Vilas Hospital here where she is being treated.

Doctors were kept on their toes on Tuesday after the infant suffered two convulsions — once at 11 a.m. and another at 4.30 p.m. “Clinically, we suspect that the haemorrhage in the brain has increased slightly,” said Some Gowda, Medical Superintendent of the hospital.

He said neurologists from National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) and ophthalmologists from Minto Eye Hospital were called in as consultants. “They have advised us to treat her medically, instead of surgically operating to deal with the haemorrhage,” said Dr. Gowda. The baby will need to be observed for 15 days.

She was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Vani Vilas Hospital on Saturday after her father Umar Farook, allegedly attempted to batter her to death in the preceding days. Currently, she is on ventilator support to check her altered breathing pattern, and on anti-convulsion medication.

While doctors said the priority now was to stabilise her condition, there is also the unfortunate possibility of Afreen suffering complications.

“One can never rule out sequelae, which are long-term complications. For example, the seizures she suffers now may continue and she may develop epilepsy,” said Gangadhar Belvadi, Head of the Paediatrics Department, who is leading the team attending to the child.

Other complications could arise from her severe head injuries, he said. “There has been some damage to the brain, which is still in an immature state. As the brain continues to grow from birth to age three, Afreen's cognitive development [may suffer],” said Dr. Belvadi. There was also a high possibility that the haemorrhage in her eye could lead to blindness.

However, because of the unpredictability of the infant's brain growth, Dr. Belvadi also gave the family a ray of hope. “There is also a chance that as the brain grows, it recovers and heals some of the damage caused,” he said.

Waiving costs

While the hospital treatment is free, Afreen's family said they have had to pay around Rs. 1,500 in the last two days for medicines and tests done in other hospitals. “We cannot afford to pay so much every day; we have to dip into our savings. I've also had to [spend] from the money I had kept aside for my youngest daughter's wedding,” said Abdul Karim Khan, Afreen's grandfather.

On a plea by the infant's mother Reshma Banu, Dr. Gowda said: “This is an extraordinary case. All costs [including medicines] will be borne by the hospital,” he said.

Judicial custody

Meanwhile, Umar Farook was produced in front of a magistrate on Monday night, who remanded him in judicial custody till April 21. A K.G. Halli police official said Farook was sent to Bangalore Central Jail, Parappana Agrahara.