Muktamoni, an 11-year-old girl from Satkhira has been suffering from a mysterious disease which has resulted in a malignant growth on her right arm.
The growth – as big as her torso and weighs nearly as much as her body – has festered with an outbreak of parasitic infection on her arm.
Doctors have so far been unsuccessful in identifying the condition.
Muktamoni lives a life constantly wracked by pain. Her father Ibrahim Hossain runs a small shop in the village of Kamarbaisha in Satkhira.
According to Ibrahim, Muktamoni and her twin Hiramoni were a pair of healthy baby girls when they were born. When Muktamoni was about 18-months-old, a wart appeared on her right arm. As the wart grew and started to hurt, her parents began to frequent local doctors for treatment.
For over seven years, Muktamoni was subjected to treatment based on guesswork.
When Muktamoni as nine years old, her right arm had malformed and became a hindrance to daily activities. Increasingly concerned and filled with dread, her parents took her to doctors in Satkhira, then Khulna, Jessore and Dhaka. But not a single doctor could help.
A paediatrician at a Khulna hospital had said it was a case of bone cancer. A second doctor at Queen’s Hospital in Jessore diagnosed her with a blood tumour (hemangioma). The treatment prescribed by both doctors only aggravated Muktamoni’s condition. To make matters worse, the plethora of treatment had bled Ibrahim dry of what meagre savings he had managed over the years.
She found agony to be a constant companion, and her arm began to reek, causing people outside her immediate family to shun her.
Muktamoni was brought to Dhaka and taken to the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed first and then to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (Nitor), more popularly known as Pongu Hospital. Both hospitals advised her parents to take her to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University.
A doctor at BSMMU diagnosed her with bone tumour (Osteochondroma). Considering the BSMMU doctor’s diagnosis to be correct, she was admitted at the hospital and treated for months. The treatment did not improve her, further aggravated her condition.
Ibrahim and his wife Asma took their daughter Muktamoni back to the village with as despair enveloped them.
The struggle to maintain a family has robbed Ibrahim of his health as well.
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Muktamoni's father Ibrahim does not know what to do or where to go now Dhaka Tribune
He told the Dhaka Tribune: “For the past six months, I have been unable to continue any treatment for my daughter. We are barely getting by. My daughter has to stay home and suffer. All I can afford is the dressing for the infections on the growth. I am pleading to the government to help cure my daughter, so that she can live a normal life.”
Her twin Hiramoni goes to school. She is a normal fourth grader, but Muktamoni’s education remains stunted.
Muktamoni, appearing with pain laced across her face and the agony dripping from her voice, said: “The pain is unbearable. And even when it does not hurt, I cannot move properly because of how heavy this growth is.”
Her mother Asma wept as she spluttered: “What mother can bear to see her daughter waste away like this and live in constant pain? I could not buy her a dress for Eid, do you know what that makes me feel?
“My daughter could sing like an angel, now she moans and groans in agony, which is all I hear” she lamented.
A doctor at Satkhira Medical College Hospital said the infections from the growth is slowly spreading throughout her body and may eventually kill her.
The doctor said the condition was possibly hyperkeratosis. The doctor also advised that BSMMU and Dhaka Medical College Hospital were capable of providing the necessary treatment after a medical board diagnosed Muktamoni.
Hiramoni, her twin, sombrely said: “If my sister cannot wear a new dress, how can I wear one? I want her to be able to come out of the house and play with me, go to school. She does not deserve this suffering. She does not.”