Irma clings to life as father pleads for end to city's agony

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The Independent Online
Irma Hadzimuratovic was last night due to undergo further tests to see if more surgery would be possible today, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, who spent the day administering drugs to maintain her heart, said the five-year-old was still unconscious and on a ventilator.

However, in answer to a question, Dr Quen Mok, a consultant paediatrician, said that the girl was expected to live. As she retained her tenuous grip on life, her father, Ramiz Hadzimuratovic, spoke movingly for the first time since they arrived in Britain and appealed for the killing in Bosnia to stop.

Irma, who suffered spinal, abdominal and head wounds, had undergone a three-hour operation to remove shrapnel from her back and later had another small operation to drain fluid from her brain on Monday after her evacuation from Sarajevo. At first she appeared to make steady progress, but her condition deteriorated later that day because of the effects of severe meningitis and doctors gave her a magnetic resonance imaging scan early yesterday.

Last night she was due to undergo another scan and return to the operating theatre so that the wounds to her back could be checked and her dressings changed.

The girl's father, still shocked by the death of his wife in the mortar attack that left Irma injured, left her bedside only briefly during the day to give a press conference. Dressed in a new brown leather jacket and shirt, bought for him after he left all his belongings at Sarajevo airport, Mr Hadzimuratovic appeared carrying his three-year-old daughter, Medina.

Speaking slowly through an interpreter, a subdued Mr Hadzimuratovic thanked the British government, John Major and all those who had helped to ensure that Irma was able to come to the UK for treatment. But Mr Hadzimuratovic, who worked in an optics factory in Sarajevo, said that Irma had been lucky as there were many more children suffering in the city.

'Sarajevo is a big concentration camp, without any water, without gas, without food, without electricity, without anything,' he said. 'I'm an ordinary man appealing to the world to help Sarajevo, to help the people of Sarajevo, and stop their suffering.

'If it is not stopped there will be more and more killing. More children like my daughter Irma will be killed.'