four years old, Chukwuemeka Isu, should be bubbling with excitement like every other child of his age but that is not the case. He is far from living the kind of boisterous life his peers at Akigbo in Ebonyi State live on a daily basis. Chukwuemeka has been enduring such a dreary lifestyle since shortly after his birth when his head started swelling rapidly. He was taken to a hospital for a test and was later diagnosed with hydrocephalus – accumulation of fluid in the cavities deep within the brain. The extra fluid puts pressure on the brain and can cause brain damage. It’s most common in infants and older adults. Hydrocephalus is characterised by head enlargement in infants. Adults and older children experience headache, impaired vision, cognitive difficulties, loss of coordination and incontinence. Treatment is often a tube (shunt) inserted surgically into a ventricle to drain excess fluid. As months went by, Chukwuemeka’s condition became worse and deprived him of the exuberance expected of a child. “The problem started some months after his birth. He underwent surgery before but doctors said he needed to undergo another surgery,” his father, Henry Isu, narrated. “I have been looking for money to pay for the surgery. The first one cost us about N500,000 at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu.” As the family continues to search for means, Chukwuemeka is pitiably confined to his sickbed at home, unable to walk or sit by himself. Henry said, “We are asked to make a deposit of N500,000 for another surgery. I don’t know how much it will cost eventually because we have to buy drugs too. The condition disturbs him a lot. “His peers have already started school but he has not been able to start. He gets sick often and has been on drugs.
The condition doesn’t allow him to sit or walk.” Worse still, the little boy battles the harrowing experience without a mother to soothe his pains. “His mother and I are not together again. We didn’t have any issues. I suspect she is tired of the boy. She left about two years ago and people have advised her to come back because of the child but she has refused to do so,” Henry, 31, added. He appealed to Nigerians to come to Chukwuemeka’s aid and give him a chance to live normal life. He said, “I just graduated from school. I was supposed to have gone for the National Youth Service Corps scheme but because of his condition, I have not been able to do so.”