There is hope that this 11-year-old boy whose skin grew over his eyes effectively blinding him after cancer ate his face may one day be able to see again and even fulfil his dream of riding his bike, and seeing what his family looks like now.
Salih Igneci was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of two, and he underwent nearly a dozen operations after tumours started growing on his face, with crusty skin from his open wounds then covering his eyes as it healed.
Doctors are now looking into operating on Salih again, this time to remove the excess skin covering his eyes, so that he can see again.
Salih lived in the village of Asagi Yenice, in Aziziye district, in Erzurum province, in eastern Turkey, after his dad Idris had to quit his job as a cook and move the family there to make ends meet.
He had obtained a job as a shepherd and worked with the help of his other sons, Firat, 13, and Haktan, 10, so he could afford 12 boxes of medication valued at TRY 2,600 (GBP 252).
Salih spent most of his time in the dark, one-room family home in the village, listening to the TV. He could not go outside, most of the time, because his skin was too sensitive to the sun.
After his plight made national headlines, help reportedly came pouring in and the Turkish Ministry of Health then got involved directly.
Salih was treated at the Ankara Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Oncology, and was given six months’ worth of medication.
His family have since moved back to the city and Salih has recently started going to a school for the blind.
Idris, his dad, now works as a driver in the city and he said: “Salih had a medicine that he used. Thank God that the medicine worked.
“Our doctor stopped that medicine a week ago. We will make an appointment with the ophthalmologist in two months. Our doctor said that there is a device coming from abroad and that they will look into Salih’s eyes with that device.
“Hopefully, they will try to draw a path and open the eyes after that.”
And Salih’s mum Yasemin said: “I thank everyone who supported us. Hopefully, if Salih’s eyes are opened, all our troubles will be over. He is no longer getting any wounds. Most of his wounds have already closed. In our house in the village, Salih was always staying in the dark.
“I was doing everything myself. Now he can go out into the light. But again, the advice of our doctors is not to go out into the sun too much. Thank God, he has no wounds like before. I don’t do the dressing myself anymore. Thanks to that medicine, his wounds were closed. Now only his eyes are left. I hope his eyes can be opened as well.”
And Salih is looking forward to being able to see again, saying: “I was in a dark room before, I could not see light. For example, I could never walk by myself before. I was always staying in a dark place. We used to cover my face even outside. Now I can walk by myself, I am not bothered by the light.”
He added: “When my eyes open, I dream of riding a bike with my brothers. I want to walk on the streets alone in Erzurum. I also wonder about seeing my mother, father and siblings and how they now look. I am also happy at school. My teacher teaches us how to write there. We read books. I play with my friends during playtime.”
It was not revealed what kind of skin cancer Salih was suffering from.