If you asked doctors two years ago, they would have said Roona Begum only had a few months to live.
At 18 months old, doctors in New Dehli diagnosed the infant with hydrocephalus, a condition where there is too much fluid in the brain. As a result, the skull swells beyond its natural size. In Roona's case, her skull was nearly 93 cm in circumference, three times the normal size for a child her age.
But after photos of Roona made international headlines, an outpouring of sympathy and aid arrived to help Roona come closer to some semblance of a normal life. First, came the fundraising efforts. Nathalie Krantz and Jonas Borchgrevink, two Norwegian students began raising money to cover Roona's medical fees.
Born in the village of Tripura in northeastern India, roughly 2,381 km from New Dehli, Abdul Rahman, Roona's father brought in less than $3 a day according to CNN. Fatima Khatun, the girl's mother would spend her days drawing eyebrows on her daughter to make her look more normal. By August of 2013, the family received $60,000, enough to cover her surgery and the cost of aftercare.
Doctors reduced Roona's head to 57.5 cm in circumference and today, at the age of three, Roona is now smiling and even laughing.
"She is much better now. She can hold her head straight and she can move her head from side to side on her own. She responds to other kids and she will smile if other kids call out her name," said Khatun in an interview with the Daily Mail.
And while Roona has shown even more signs of progress — she's now able to crawl, eat and sleep easier — doctors are concerned hydrocephalus may have damaged her brain.
"I don't think she will be absolutely normal because with such a severe case of hydrocephalus there has to be some damage to the brain. But with the improvement she has shown we are hopeful she will be able to do some things," said neurosurgeon Dr Sandeep Vaishyam, one of the doctors in charge with Roona.
For more on Roona's incredible journey, watch the video above.
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