Bhopal: An Indian teenager who suffers from a rare condition that makes his head hang at a 180-degree angle has undergone pioneering surgery to help transform his life.
Mahendra Ahirwar, from the village of Madhya Pradesh in central India, had surgery to straighten his neck earlier this year.
His extensor neck muscles were unable to hold his head in place, meaning it constantly fell onto his right shoulder or his chest, a crowdfunder page explains.
The 13-year-old, who suffers from a muscle-wasting disease, was able to have the surgery after kind-hearted British fundraiser Julie Jones launched an appeal to raise £10,000.
Ms Jones, a mother-of-two from Liverpool, helped raised the funds from 4,500 miles away after being moved by a TV documentary focusing on the teenager and his condition.
Dr Rajagopalan Krishnan, from the Apollo Hospital, in Delhi, performed the surgery after the boy’s story touched hearts around the world.
The doctor removed disks from the boy’s neck and replaced them with bone graft from his pelvis. He then fixed the neck into a straight position with a metal plate.
His father Mukesh, 41, said that his son’s life has been transformed since the operation.
“It’s a miracle! He looks great. His neck is straight; and his life is so very different,” he said.
Before the surgery, the boy’s mother explained he was ignored by other children in his village, adding: “I wonder if death is the only treatment left to end his misery”.
His father had previously taken him to hospital but doctors were unable to diagnose the condition. “We saved for almost a year for the trip and then it was a nightmare,” he explained. “All my savings were finished in days between food and treatment.
“I was almost left without money and I didn’t want to die on the road with my son so I returned to my village.”
Mahendra hopes he can now study at university: “I only want to go to school. I want to play and read books,” he said. “I remain at home and only have to play with my siblings. I know once I get well no-one will tease me. “Once I get well, I will work and marry.”