KUALA LUMPUR - Despite only being two years old, Nurfatiha Najiha has undergone 12 surgeries and spent more time in hospital than anywhere else.
She suffers from a medical condition called hydrocephalus which results in her having an abnormally large head due to accumulation of a large amount of cerebral fluid in her brain.
While most new parents have to bear with sleepless nights, Nurfatiha's mother Nurul Wahida Hasbulah, 23, said she had trouble even carrying her baby.
"When her condition was first identified, Najiha was very weak. She was so scared of everyone.
"She would need me constantly to be around to carry her but it was quite tough to do due to the size of her head," she said.
At one point, she said the circumference of Nurfatiha's head measured 61cm.
Nurul Wahida, who is a housewife, and her lorry driver husband have only one child.
She said Nurfatiha was not born with the condition but family members began to notice the abnormal rate of growth of her head when she was about two months.
"In fact, before the operations, all she could do was to lie down or lean her head to the side due to its weight," she said when met at a special medical talk at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) here yesterday.
Nurul Wahida, however, said she persisted in encouraging her daughter to go about with daily activities.
"It was hard at first but my daughter kept on improving day by day.
"While she may look different from other children, she still brings me much joy," she said.
The only difficulty now was having to travel every three months from Seremban to Kuala Lumpur for her medical check ups, she said.
"The doctors do not know if her condition will ever improve but we will continue to stay positive," she said, smiling at Nurfatiha who was bobbing her head to the music that was playing in the background.
Nurul Wahida said she was doing all she could to help other families who have children with similar conditions.
"We have initiated a group on Facebook to help each other deal with the challenges of this rare condition.
"We are also collecting funds to support poor families who need financial aid for any surgeries their children would require," she said.
Neurosurgical Association of Malaysia honorary secretary Dr Azmi Alias advised parents who noticed any abnormal head growth in their children to seek treatment immediately.
"Once the condition is identified, we may be able to help the child but each case is different as it involves the brain," he said.