Tree man Disease: Muktamoni waits for miracle
12:00 AM, July 12, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:53 PM, July 12, 2017

Moni waits for miracle

Doctors had given up but now a medical board is trying to diagnose her disease

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Her parents had been waiting for their 12-year old daughter's death.

Now, they can hope once again, albeit with some trepidation.

When doctors in Khulna gave up on 12-year old Muktamoni around two and a half years ago, claiming she was incurable, her parents could see their world turn fully upside down. “The doctors told us she had cancer and that she would not live. They suggested us to take her home and make the best of what little time we had,” Ahsan Habib, Mukta's uncle remembered.  

However, defying all odds owing to her resilience and perhaps a dash of luck, Muktamoni continued to survive, in anguish but with anticipation of a future cure. She continued to sing ghazals, a favourite of hers, distracting her from her pain but never for too long.

Hailing from Satkhira, she was admitted for treatment yesterday morning to Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

An eight member board has already been formed to conduct her treatment. Doctors suspect she has been suffering from blood deficiency and poor nutrition. But she needs to stay for eight to ten days at the hospital for more tests to identify her disease and confirm her treatment. If suspicions are proven correct, Muktamoni will have to first improve her blood and nutrition condition as her body may not be ready to go through any extensive surgery that maybe required. 

Dr Samanta Lal Sen, member of the board, said, “She will get treatment free of cost like Abul Bajandar, who became known as the 'tree man.”

Muktamoni, has been afflicted by the disease mainly in her right hand, the condition leading to her hand swelling up like a bee hive. But it all started a long time back.

When Muktamoni was three years old, her parents observed a small swelling in her chest. After a few days, the marble-like protrusions appeared underneath her left armpit. Thus began a round of treatment that has continued till this very day.

First, Ibrahim took his daughter to local doctors but no improvement was seen.

He said she always feels unbearable pain in the affected hand which is infested with parasitic worms.

“We gave her homeopathy treatment too, for nearly one and a half years, but it did not work,” he said.

She was taken to different hospitals in Satkhira, Jessore and Khulna. She even went to CRP Savar where she was recommended a specialist in Dhaka. The specialist provided her with some medicines but in three months, no changes were seen. Her family had spent almost taka four lakh. According to her father, to bear the rising costs, they had to sell their cattle and take loan from relatives and friends.

Finally, around two and a half years ago, she was admitted to a hospital in Khulna where doctors said that she could not be cured and suggested her family to take her home.

As hopelessness set in, her father resorted to taking the help of a herbal treatment known as “Kabiraji medicine” which is cheap and generally availed by people less well-off. They also went for other non-traditional medicines but nothing seemed to work.      

But later on, as Muktamoni's story was picked up by different news media, she was brought to DMCH, said Ibrahim. 

Muktamoni's mother Ayesha Khatun said, “I couldn't tolerate the condition of my daughter."

She said the villagers, and even their relatives, do not visit their house as the affected hand is slowly rotting and emanating a bad odour.

Muktamoni said the disease causes an itch and is very painful, adding that the pain gets more acute during summer and winter.

"I can't go to school. But I want to go again with my sister," said Muktamoni.

Her twin sister, Hira Moni, added she eagerly waits for the day she can play with Muktamoni again.    

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