PUBLISHED: 10:13 EST, 15 May 2012 | UPDATED: 10:39 EST, 15 May 2012
A young Ugandan boy is fighting for his life after his legs mysteriously swelled up to ‘elephant size’ and he contracted a potentially deadly flesh-eating infection.
Vincent Oketch, 10, is bed bound, unable to walk and forced to wear girl’s dresses and skirts because he cannot fit into shorts or trousers due to the condition.
Doctors in his village of Peta are now appealing for international help, warning he could soon die if he is left untreated.
Heartbreaking: Vincent Oketch, 10, is bed bound, unable to walk and forced to wear girl’s dresses and skirts because he cannot fit into shorts or trousers due to the condition
His father Tito Opoya said: ‘It really upsets him because he has to wear pink and the other kids tease him. He is only small, but his legs are really heavy and weigh more than he does.’
Vincent’s family first spotted that he had a problem when he was 18-months old, but were too poor to take him to a clinic.
As he grew, so did his swollen legs. But doctors are confused as to exactly why it is happening. Some believe he was born with a lymphatic problem, causing the swelling to grow over time.
But conflicting diagnoses and basic medical facilities have left him facing amputation as local doctors discuss how best to approach the problem.
Ugandan Doctor Isaac Osire has now launched an appeal to help the boy, who he thinks may have contracted the serious fasciitis infection.
He is asking British experts to help with a diagnosis, and possible medical treatment to save the boy’s life, and prevent the need for amputation.
Desperate: Doctors in his village of Peta are now appealing for international help, warning he could soon die if he is left untreated
Dr Osire, who runs an organisation called EDYAC, helps children from poor villages access medical treatment. He took Vincent in his car to a hospital in Kampala to see if surgeons there could operate.
Doctors carried out MRI scans and at first believed Vincent was suffering from a complicated mix of a faulty lymphatic system, elephantiasis and tissue deformity.
They also discovered the swelling had affected Vincent’s bones, leading to a dislocated hip and broken ankles.
However, they say biopsy results now suggest Vincent may also have necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating infection, which could be fatal if untreated.
Dr Osire said: ‘The hospital now says it is considering amputation of Vincent’s legs at the thigh. I’m very worried about this, because we keep hearing different diagnoses.
‘It’s difficult to know what is correct. We desperately need a British doctor, or foreign medical expert, who can offer advice about Vincent’s case.
‘The case is extremely complex and we’d like to find out if there is anything that can be done to save his legs.’ A British doctor currently visiting Uganda hopes to be able to see Vincent in the next few weeks to assess his condition.
Dr Osire said: ‘We’re extremely grateful for any help. We urgently need outside medical advice because the case may be too complicated to be treated locally.
‘I want to do whatever I can to save this boy, and give him the chance of a normal life.’
The boy’s father Tito added: ‘I hope doctors can do something to help my son. I am grateful to Dr Osire for all he has done for us.’
Dr Osire bravely helps children across Uganda, and takes those with the most serious conditions to hospital in his own car.
‘We need financial help,’ he said. ‘There are lots of children like Vincent with rare illnesses and no ambulances available in poor rural villages. I hope we can find a foreign charity who can help us.’