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Mother finds son was a girl

Six weeks after she had distributed sweets celebrating her son’s birth, Fatima (name changed) was shocked to learn that her baby boy was actually a girl. Alifiya Khan reports.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2009 01:13 IST
Alifiya Khan

Six weeks after she had distributed sweets celebrating her son’s birth, Fatima (name changed) was shocked to learn that her baby boy was actually a girl.

The resident of Mankhurd said she was taken so aback that she didn’t have the courage to tell her family about it for several days.

“When she was born, she had male genitalia and hair all over her body,” Fatima recalled. “Even the birth certificate said that a boy had been born. Everyone was very happy. But she was weak and kept falling sick with fever and had urinary problems. One day, we took her to Cama Hospital where they told us that our son is actually a girl.”

The mother of two said the doctors did an ultrasound through which they learnt that the baby was a girl because she had a uterus and womb. Further tests revealed that the baby was genetically female.

“We were told to bring the baby after two years for a surgery to change the appearance of her sex organs,” said Fatima, whose husband is a rag picker and earns Rs 2,000 a month. “But we got scared and went to our hometown in Uttar Pradesh. But her condition kept deteriorating and family members kept taunting her. Finally we brought her back to Mumbai.”

Last week, her four-year-old daughter underwent a rare inter-sex surgery at Sion hospital in which doctors cut off the male genitalia and reconstructed the female sex organs.

The municipal hospital did the surgery for free. It costs between Rs 75,000 and Rs 4 lakh in a private hospital.

“The baby had a condition known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia,” said Dr Paras Kothari, head of the hospital’s pediatric surgery department, adding that such cases needed to be operated at an early stage to eliminate long-term psychological harm.

“In this condition, the baby is female but has an excess of male hormones,” he said. “The patient whom we operated upon had sex organs like a male child but all the internal organs and genetic tests proved she was female.”

According to statistics, one in two lakh children are born with this disorder every year.

“Her clitoris had swollen up and resembled a penis, while her vaginal folds had fused and resembled a scrotum,” Kothari said. “We had to cut this extra tissue, keeping the nerves intact, so that she can have a normal sexual life,” said Kothari, adding that the main job now was to counsel the family. “They have to be advised about how to adjust to this change.”