Wednesday May 29, 2024

100 infants with birth defects rehabilitated

By Amer Malik
March 03, 2018

LAHORE: children with innate genital birth defects have found light at the end of a dark tunnel as up to 100 children with dominant female hormones got feminine identity in a surgical intervention.

“Around 100 children suffering from congenital intersex abnormality, with dominant XX hormones, are surgically converted into females enabling them to lead a normal life with ability for procreation of offspring,” said Prof Dr Afzal Sheikh, an eminent Paediatric Surgeon, while conducting a follow-up session with the children getting a new lease of life out of utter despondency.

The Birth Defects Foundation, a local organisation, has taken up the gauntlet to bring such children with congenital genitalia birth defects out of oblivion and provide treatment free-of-cost to make them normal persons again. “The follow-up session with the children, having rehabilitated as proper females, is part of an awareness campaign to bring such children out of hiding to seek treatment,” said Ansar Javed Khan, President BDF, and Irfan Qureshi, General Secretary BDF. Although, these surgeries are being performed in public and private sector, yet the Foundation has gathered largest number of rehabilitated children at one place to create awareness among the masses.

Out of 18 congenital birth defects, including genital disorders, the organisation is focusing on four major genital disorders among children. These disorders include intersex or ambiguity of sex; hypospadias in which phallus is curved down with urethral opening abnormally placed on ventral aspect; un-descended testis; and hernia, which are the major cause of infertility among such patients.

Talking to The News, Prof Afzal Sheikh, who is also Patron-in-Chief of BDF, said the children with congenital hormonal imbalance with dominant XX hormones are inherently females and the children with dominant XY hormones are predominantly males, but are often confused with transgender having XXY hormones. The dominant hormones of either XX or XY among children are treatable through surgical procedure to bring them back to normal life as females or males respectively. But, unfortunately, they are also regarded as transgender, having XXY abnormality, with just a small percentage of them being curable.

He informed that these children rehabilitated as females will experience natural menstrual cycle upon reaching the age of puberty in addition to natural growth of breasts. However, these newly-converted girls will have to take life-long medicine to maintain their female identity. Else, he said, the feminist identity will be lost in the absence of medicines that act as an agent to suppress the androgens – the male hormones in the body. The children with dominant male hormones, however, merely needed surgical intervention to attain normal masculinity and don’t have to depend on medicines. “The rehabilitated females have the ability to bear children,” he claimed, however, added that some of the rehabilitated girls, who got married, have not given birth to children so far. He advised people not to hide their children’s genital birth defects and consult the paediatric surgeon within first month of their birth for their rehabilitation as males or females. The infants with congenital genital birth defects need to maintain their salt level as any salt loss or sodium deficiency may prove fatal. “The operation, however, can be conducted at any age, but it doesn’t remain feasible as the person may have grown moustaches and beard in late his teens or afterwards.” “We are providing 100 percent free surgical treatment to such patients along with supply of medicines on a monthly basis regularly. The medicines are highly expensive and definitely unaffordable for the poor.” He said the government needed to play its role in procuring medicines for the patients and also facilitate them with free or subsidised tests, required to be conducted on quarterly basis.

He informed that these rehabilitated children also confronted with a problem of seeking change of sex in schools or acquiring B-Form. The parents of the rehabilitated children expressed their happiness over recovery of their children back to normal life and thanked the organisation for providing complete care to their children free-of-cost.