Five-year-old girl paralysed by untreated shrapnel injury after military shelling in Kalay

The family of a five-year-old girl who was hit in the head by shrapnel in Kalay, Sagaing Region after a shelling by the military in early July say they have been unable to secure necessary treatment for the child.

The injury happened immediately following a major explosion on the evening of July 3 near the girl’s home, when the junta’s armed forces fired artillery shells in what is believed to have been a clash with local resistance forces. 

Phyo Wai Aung, the girl’s father, said that shrapnel penetrated his daughter’s temple and lodged in her head, where it remains. 

“The shootings started at around 9pm. Then, two shells fell around us. The first one missed but the second one hit the wall of our house and shrapnel started flying in through the hole,” Phyo Wai Aung said.

The x-ray shows the shrapnel lodged inside the girl’s head (Supplied)

The girl has since been unable to move her legs. She underwent an x-ray in Kalay, and doctors told her father that the shrapnel near her brain was likely causing her paralysis, but that the Sagaing Region town was not equipped to properly diagnose and treat her. 

“I don’t know if she’s going to need surgery. We have to get to Mandalay first. The doctor said they couldn’t identify it with a regular x-ray and that she needed a CT scan,” Wai Phyo Aung said. 

Due to a lack of work and available funds, Wai Phyo Aung, who digs wells for a living, said that he had not been able to send his daughter to Mandalay to get the treatment she needs. 

A surge in Covid-19 infections in Kalay has meant that hospitals in the area are overwhelmed. The girl’s father said that he was concerned that hospitals in Mandalay may be facing a similar crisis, and might not admit his daughter. 

The girl’s mother was also hit in the back by shrapnel in the explosion but has since recovered. 

Local media outlet Khonumthung News reported that a 69-year-old man died of a heart attack due to the shock and stress of the shootings and explosions on July 3. 

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