This is Mohammad Kaleem, an 8-year-old boy from Jharkhand State, Eastern India known to many as the “Devil’s Child” because of his disproportionately large hands.
Kaleem was born with an unusual form of gigantism (macrodactyly), which makes his hands grow bigger than normal until they were as heavy as stones.
Branded as the ‘Devil’s Child’, Kaleem experienced frequent outrage from the superstitious members of his village. Even school teachers turned down Kaleem’s entry at school for him not to scare other kids.
As he grew older, he found it difficult to perform daily tasks by himself such as dressing, eating and bathing. Because of these, he must undergo surgery to give him a chance to have a normal life and to keep him away from other children’s bullying.
However, the young boy has been given new hope after a national surgeon offered him a life-changing surgery. Following a sudden international publicity campaign surrounding Kaleem, Dr Raja Sabapathy – a pioneering hand surgeon who is known for his expertise in micro surgery, met with the family late last year.
He then diagnosed Kaleem with macrodactyly, or localised gigantism, and decided to take on the challenge of giving Kaleem normal hands. A new documentary follows the family as they travel thousands of miles from their village to Tamil Nadu, to see Dr Sabapathy and his team of expert surgeons at Ganga Hospital.
Dr Sabapathy gave us hope after seeing Kaleem. He was the first doctor who told us that some sort of remedy was possible to help our son,” according to Kaleem’s mother.
So, Kaleem decided to ungergo an eight-hour surgery to reduce the size of Kaleem’s hands and fingers, without damaging any of his nerves, so that he would still be able to use them. He will also receive future surgery in the near future to prevent further growth.
We decided to go for just one hand to begin with. This was our best way to assess the condition. At the same time, we did not want to affect the boy’s mobility,” said Dr Sabapathy.
There is no treatment for this boy. He is the devil’s child. This is just because his parents must have committed a wrong deed at some point in their life,” he added.
But fortunately, Kaleem’s parents are determined in giving their son a normal future.
We knew that there is no such thing as a devil’s child. The villagers love to gossip and that is what they are doing about our son. Ultimately, he is our son and we have to take care of him.”