A nine-year-old Pakistani girl whose head hangs at a 180-degree angle is forced to live as a pariah because people are scared of her.
Afhseen Qumbar, from Mithi in Pakistan’s Singh province, has an unknown muscular disorder, which means she is unable to keep her head upright.
The condition means that Afhseen cannot stand or walk properly and is restricted to a sitting position. She also needs help to eat and use the toilet.
Children are scared of her and adults believe her condition is a result of sins. She doesn’t go to school and her only friends are her six siblings.
Her father Allah Jurio, 55, and mother Jameelan, 50, say they have consulted several local doctors but have been told they cannot provide treatment for such a rare condition.
The poverty-stricken couple, who rely on their eldest son for financial help also lack the money or resources to take their daughter for specialist help.
Afhseen Qumbar, from Mithi in Pakistan’s Singh province, has a muscular disorder, which means she is unable to keep her head upright
Jameelan said: ‘It is devastating to see my daughter like this. I cannot see her suffer anymore. None of the doctors here could diagnose her condition.
‘They have advised us to take her to Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Karachi. But we do not have money or resources to a bigger hospital for treatment.’
When did the disorder happen?
Afhseen was born a normal baby like her six other siblings, but her life changed after she reached the age of eight months.
Jameelan added: ‘When she was eight months old, she fell on ground while playing outside the house and got her neck hurt.
‘We ignored her condition initially and due to lack of money we used to take her to a local faith healer but her condition never improved.
‘As she grew older, her problems became complicated. She isn’t able to keep her head upright at all and often complains of pain in the neck.
‘She cannot do anything by herself and needs help in everything. She just sits in a corner and occasionally plays with her siblings.’
Reliant on their son
Both Jameelan and Jurio work in their family farms and do not have a daily job.
The condition means that Afhseen cannot stand or walk properly and is restricted to a sitting position. She also needs help to eat and use the toilet
Children are scared of her and adults believe her condition is a result of sins. She doesn’t go to school and her only friends are her siblings
Their eldest son Mohmad Yaqoob, 25, who works at a private shop and earns less than £200 a month, runs the household affairs.
Jameelan added: ‘We have to carry her everywhere like a baby but she is nine years old, how will we carry her when she grows even older?’
Forced to live as a pariah
IS THIS CONGENITAL MYOPATHY?
Afhseen’s bizarre case follows that of the 13-year-old Indian boy, Mahendra Ahirwar, who made international news for a similar medical issue last year.
Doctors suspected he suffered from a congenital myopathy which made his muscles in his neck so weak his head would hang at a 180-degree angle.
This is an umbrella term for a group of inherited muscle conditions that are present from birth, and occur in six in every 100,000 births, figures suggest.
However, according to local reports, Afhseen did not display any symptoms until she turned eight months – which means if she does have the condition, it would have been dormant for the first portion of her life.
Source: Muscular Dystrophy UK
Afhseen’s unusual condition has made her live as a pariah because no one comes close to her.
Jurio said: ‘People say bad things about our daughter. They often laugh at her. It really hurts us. We cannot tolerate people’s attitudes and discrimination.
‘People avoid her sight so we keep her at home. We want her to study but no one will accept her in school.’
Doctors believe Afhseen suffers from a rare case of muscular disorder or anomaly in spine but suggest only a thorough examination can reveal the cause.
‘The rarest of rare’
Dr Dilip Kumar, who runs a private clinic is Mithi, and has seen Afhseen’s case, said: ‘This is one of the rarest of rare cases.
‘Her condition could be due to a spine anomaly or muscular disorder, but it can only be concluded after a thorough investigation.
‘We don’t have the facilities available in Mithi that is why I have suggested the parents to take her to Karachi where she can have a lifesaving operation.’
Afhseen’s desperate parents have pleaded for help from the Pakistan government.
Jurio says: ‘If government comes in for help, our daughter can live a normal life. I still have so many hopes and dreams for Afhseen.
‘I want to see her 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’ he added.