Two-month-old Whithines is a quiet, active baby girl who lives in Tanzania.
Our medical partner, African Mission Healthcare Foundation (AMHF), tells us, “Whithines was born without problems and was feeding and growing well until two weeks ago, when her mother noticed her daughter’s forehead was increasing in size. Her head was getting heavier and softer.”
Whithines’s increasing head size is the result of hydrocephalus, a condition in which there is an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. In an infant, too much fluid—the result of infection, trauma, malformation of the central nervous system, or genetic defect—can increase pressure on the brain and inside the skull, leading to an enlarged head and developmental issues.
Treatment for Whithines is a shunt to drain the excess fluid from her brain. In this procedure, doctors place a shunt into the ventricles and connect it to a tube that runs under the skin and empties into the abdomen, where the excess fluid can be resorbed by the body.
Whithines’s grandparents support her and her young parents financially, but they do not earn enough money as small-scale farmers to pay for the procedure that Whithines needs.
$775 will fund surgery to place the shunt, as well as five days of hospital care and two weeks’ accommodations at The Plaster House, a home where children can recover after surgery. AMHF says, “Whithines’s head will no longer continue to increase in size, and she will no longer be at risk of losing her vision.”
“We love her dearly,” says Whithines’s mother. “We hope she will get better and later on have the ability to go to school and get a good career.”