SHARJAH // Every morning for five months, eight-year-old Ahmad Abdul Manan woke up with a painful headache.
When the boy's vision began to deteriorate his desperate family, who had been unsure of what to do because they did not have health insurance, finally sought medical help.
"The first thing we did was to consult his ophthalmologist who changed his glasses, but the problem was continuing and he had double vision," said Jalia Begum, Ahmad's mother.
The boy was referred to Al Qassimi Hospital where Dr Sathish Krishnan quickly discovered the cause of Ahmad's pain - a tumour the size of an orange had developed on his brain.
"It had grown big and round, like an orange," said Dr Krishnan, a senior neurological surgeon. "We decided to perform a surgery called microscopic execution so that we could remove the whole tumour."
The doctors were able to carry out the life-saving operation last Wednesday quickly and successfully - at no cost to the family. Dr Krishnan said it was a Ministry of Health policy to do all life-saving operations in a Government hospital free of charge.
Ahmad's father, Abdul, originally from Bangladesh, who works as a driver for a real estate firm in Sharjah, said the family delayed treating their son because they were confused about what was wrong. They were also fearful of how much treatment would cost. "When he complained of not seeing well we thought it was a problem with his glasses," he said.
"When we got referred to Al Qassimi Hospital and the doctors said my son's health was in danger and something big had to be done to save him, my first worry was if I could afford paying the bills for whatever they wanted to do.
"I revealed my worries to the doctors and they told me 'don't worry, everything will be done to save him at no cost'," Mr Manan said.
"Now when I see my son has improved and is not in pain anymore and I didn't pay any money, I can't stop thanking the hospital administrators and the rulers of this country."
Dr Alia Ibrahim Hammad, a surgeon who helped to remove the tumour, said Ahmad would be discharged in a couple of days. Any follow-up treatment would only be recommended after the tumour had been examined.
"We have already sent the tumour to the laboratory and we need to establish whether it is benign or malignant," she said. "Once that is established we will decide on the follow-up therapy - whether it is radiotherapy or chemotherapy."
Dr Krishnan urged parents to immediately seek advice from a doctor whenever a child complained of regular or persistent headaches.
"Tumours can cause severe headaches, vomiting, depression and lack of concentration that would result into low grades in class," he said.
"But the most serious concern about brain tumours among children is they can also be cancerous."