A seven-year-old Pakistani girl is suffering from a rare condition which has caused her leg to balloon to three times the normal size.
Tahira Khan was bitten by a mosquito and has elephantiasis – a parasitic infection that has made her limb painfully swell to weigh a whopping 10 kilograms.
Because of the enormous weight and size of her leg, Tahira, from Nasirabad in the Balochistan province, can’t walk and has been left bedridden for months.
She cannot stand on her own and needs support from her family members in order to go to the toilet or climbing stairs in the house. She has been forced to drop out of school and live like a recluse.
Her family have been told she urgently needs medical help but they are too poor to fund treatment – her father earns just £3 a day.
Tahira’s 27-year-old brother Rozi Khan, who works as a primary school teacher, said: ‘Until two months ago, she could not only walk but run like normal children despite her swollen leg.
Tahira Khan, from Pakistan, has parasitic infection elephantiasis due to a mosquito bite
The rare condition has forced her to live like a recluse as she can’t walk
WHAT IS ELEPHANTIASIS?
Elephantiasis is normally caused by a parasite from a mosquito bite and is usually found in tropical areas.
It is characterised by the massive enlargement of an area of the body via obstruction of the lymphatic system.
This results in the accumulation of fluids in the affected part of the body.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly 1.4billion people in 73 countries worldwide are threatened by the condition, which is also known as lymphatic filariasis.
WHO figures suggest that approximately 80 per cent of these people are living in regions including Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
More than 120million people are currently infected, with about 40 million disfigured and incapacitated by the disease, the organisation adds.
‘She is completely bedridden for past two months now.
‘We are worried about her condition as it is causing her lot of pain. She is not able to walk on her own or even stand on her feet.’
Elephantitis, known as elephant leg disease, is characterised by abnormal swelling of tissues.
It is most commonly caused by a parasite carried by mosquitoes. The legs and genitals are usually affected, which become thick and saggy.
Too poor for treatment
Tahira was born as the eighth child to parents Bazar Khan, 53, and Toorpaikhi Khan, 49.
Her father, Bazar, said: ‘Our other children are quite normal but Tahira has had the condition since birth.
‘Days after her birth, we found her right leg was bigger than the left one.
‘We consulted doctors. They gave some medicines and told that her leg has swollen due to a mosquito bite.
Her mother sold all her jewellery but the family can’t afford to take her to a bigger hospital
Tahira’s father runs a small grocery shop outside his house which earns just £3 a day
We are worried about her condition as it is causing her lot of pain,’ said her brother
‘Since then the size of her leg kept shooting up.’
Bazar runs a small grocery shop outside his house which does not make enough to pay for the specialist help Tahira needs.
He says over the years they have consulted several doctors but recently they have been told that treatment for such a condition is not available in Balochistan.
Khan said: ‘It is devastating to see my daughter like this. I cannot see her suffer anymore.
‘Doctors in Balochistan have advised us to take her to a bigger hospital in Karachi or Islamabad. But, we do not have enough money or resources to take our daughter for treatment to a bigger hospital.
Tahira’s desperate parents pleading for the Pakistan government to step in to help
‘We have spent whatever money we had on her treatment. Her mother has sold all her jewellery but her condition has not improved.’
Tahira’s unusual condition has made her live as a recluse.
Her father said: ‘She spends all her day lying on the bed. She doesn’t go to school and her only friends are her siblings now.’
Tahira’s desperate parents are pleading for help from the Pakistan government.
‘We appeal the government of Pakistan to come forward and help our daughter.
‘If government comes in for help, our daughter can live a normal life.
‘I want to see my daughter go to school and play with other kids. I want to see her living a normal life and I am hoping that my wish will be fulfilled one day’ his father added.