Girl’s balloon-like head growth is ‘blocking her vision’

Parents of an 11-month-old girl with a balloon-like growth on her head are desperately trying to find a surgeon who can remove the bizarre mass

  • MK Cruz, from Manila in the Philippines, is thought to have hydrocephalus 
  • She needs multiple surgeries to remove the growth and reconstruct her skull
  • Her parents are raising money to pay a surgeon when they find one to operate

The family of a baby girl with a huge growth on her head are desperately trying to find a surgeon to remove the balloon-like lump.

MK Cruz, who is 11 months old, was born with a build-up of fluid on her brain and it has swollen out of control, according to local media reports.

The growth is now bigger than the rest of her head and is affecting the infant’s eyesight – but her family have struggled to find a surgeon to do the work.

People in their local community in Manila in the Philippines are helping MK’s parents raise money and her mother, Cathleen Chavoso, said: ‘My daughter can be saved.’

MK Cruz, pictured with her mother Cathleen Chavoso, is believed to have hydrocephalus, which causes swelling inside the skull and leads to the head becoming deformed

The family are struggling to find a surgeon who’s willing to operate to remove the growth, but are in the process of the raising the money to pay for the procedure, which they expect to cost thousands of dollars

Hydrocephalus typically causes a more even growth all over the top of the skull, whereas MK’s appears to come out of one specific suggestion, indicating that it could be caused by something else such as a tumour

Miss Chavoso, 18, and MK’s father, Reynaldo Cruz, 32, believe their daughter has a condition called hydrocephalus.

This is a disorder in which spinal fluid builds up within the brain, putting pressure on the skull, causing it to expand outwards and put pressure on the brain.

One in every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus, according to the Hydrocephalus Association, making it ‘as common as Down’s syndrome’.

Some children are worse affected than others and the only treatment is surgery to release the pressure inside their skull using a fluid draining device called a shunt.

Hydrocephalus is a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can damage tissue.

Aside from an abnormally-sized head, other symptoms can include headache, nausea, vomiting, confusion and vision problems.

Hydrocephalus’ cause is usually unknown but may be due to issues with cavities in the brain or an underlying health problem that affects blood flow, such as heart disease.

It can also be acquired by damage to the brain due to a head injury, stroke or tumour.

Treatment is shunt surgery, which involves implanting a thin tube into the brain to drain away excess fluid to another part of the body where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

If untreated, hydrocephalus can be fatal due to increased pressure compressing the brainstem, which is responsible for regulating heart rates and breathing. 

Source: Brain and Spine Foundation

The swelling caused by hydrocephalus is usually evenly spread around the top of the head, however, whereas MK’s all seems to come out of one part of her head, suggesting it could be another condition such as a tumour.

She has had the growth since she was born but it has been growing steadily larger ever since.

‘The doctor is confident that hopefully, her eyes can recover once the growth on her head is removed,’ said Mr Cruz, who works as a tricycle driver.

‘But it’s a very risky operation and the doctors here said that they cannot do both procedures. Without the operations, I don’t know what will happen to our daughter.’

The family expect the operations to cost thousands of dollars.

MK will need a shunt – essentially a straw for the excess fluid to leak out of – to be put in drain her skull, the couple said, then further surgery to reconstruct her skull.

Children’s skulls don’t fully fuse together and harden until they’re about two years old so are susceptible to being misshapen by the condition.

‘We are not sure yet if there is someone willing to come here to do the operation,’ Mr Cruz said.

MK has had the growth since she was born but it has been growing steadily larger ever since

MK will also need surgery to reconstruct her skull after the growth has been removed otherwise her head could end up deformed forever

‘Without the surgery to repair her skull it will be permanently deformed.

‘We were told that we need to await a doctor from the US before we can do the second procedure because there was nobody who could do this operation in the Philippines.’

Miss Chavoso added: ‘My daughter can be saved. There are doctors who can do it. We will keep fighting for her.’ 

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