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Girl carrying, but tumour

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 5.05.05

Calcutta, May 5: Dragged to a witch doctor and then all but banished by village elders for carrying the ?devil’s child?, a 17-year-old girl landed at Medical College and Hospital. But Chhabi Shabar was not carrying a foetus, but a 15-kg tumour that was removed in a rare operation today.

About a year ago, Chhabi noticed her abdomen swelling, which her mother Sarathi dismissed as her putting on weight. ?But the swelling continued? People started taunting me. I tried telling them that something must be wrong, but nobody believed,? she said.

Her father Niru, a farmer at Dhamaitikri village in Pandua, Hooghly, 80 km from Calcutta, took her to a local doctor, who concluded that it could be nothing but pregnancy. ?She was having breathing problems and nausea and the swelling was increasing,? said Niru.

Chhabi’s predicament took a turn as the village elders suggested that she be taken to a witch doctor (ojha). ?It is the devil’s child, but I can fix her case easily,? he proclaimed, chanting hymns. ?He used wood apple leaves and did some puja and said the devil’s child will vanish,? her mother recalled.

Villagers ostracised the girl when the swelling began to get bigger. The elders had even called a meeting to discuss her fate. ?At this point, our relatives, who stayed in Calcutta, advised us to come over,? Niru said.

Five days ago, she was admitted to the medical college under Gautam Chatterjee, the head of the department of surgical gastro-enterology. ?She was in considerable discomfort and could not walk. The haemoglobin count was an abysmal 4 gm (normal 12-14 gm).?

An ultra sonography revealed that Chhabi was not pregnant, but carrying a tumour in the abdominal cavity. There were early symptoms of oedema (swelling) of the lower limbs and problems in blood circulation, Chatterjee added.

A team headed by him removed the tumour ? the size of about five foetuses. ?When we brought it out, her parents were stunned,? said Arko Banerjee, a doctor who was part of the team that claimed the operation was a rare feat.

?Chhabi will be released after a few days of rest.?