Doctors have launched an urgent appeal for equipment which may help save the life of a three year old Bosnian girl.
Najla Aleduz was struck down with paralysis following a routine immunisation injection. She cannot move or talk and is being kept alive by Kosevo Hospital's only ventilator, which was designed for adult use.
"She feels pain and sensations completely normally. She can see but she can't talk. It's a nightmare. It's about the worst thing that could happen to a child," said Professor David Southall, a founder of the charity Child Advocacy, whose paediatric team is treating the child in Sarajevo.
It is urgently seeking pounds 35,000 to purchase a child's ventilator and monitoring equipment, while tests continue to find out what has caused Najla's sickness. At the moment, the child has been given a 25 per cent chance of recovery but doctors are not optimistic.
"It could take her months to recover, if at all, and in the meantime there are other sick patients who desperately need to use the equipment," said Professor Southall.
Paediatricians treating Najla have decided it is in the child's best interests to remain at the hospital.
If the worst came to the worst, Professor Southall said, at least the equipment would be available for use by other sick children.
"We are of course extremely relieved that the war has ended, but its going to take at least five years for the care infrastructure to be repaired and for specialist doctors who can treat such a child to return and be effective," he said.
"I don't think the British public understands how little equipment or how few doctors these hospitals have got."
The RAF yesterday flew out emergency supplies of intravenous immunoglobulin to help treat Najla, an only child. Meanwhile, her parents keep a round- the-clock vigil, awaiting signs of recovery.
Child Advocacy International is one of the four charities being supported by the Independent's Children of War Christmas Appeal. The other three charities are:
Save the Children, whose main effort if focused on children who have been separated from their families, counselling and reuniting them;
The International Red Cross, which is conducting the largest humanitarian enterprise in the region, looking after large camps of refugees, and linking people through its famous messaging network;
War Child, which plans to build a pounds 2.5m music therapy centre in Mostar, and to send urgently needed prosthetics out to wounded children in the Tuzla area;
Please make out cheques for the charity you wish to support.
People wishing to help Najla Aleduz immediately can telephone Child Advocacy on 01782 712599 or 0421 378494.
I would like to make a donation to help children in former Yugoslavia. I enclose a cheque/postal order/CAV/CAF card for pounds ............ made payable to one of the following charities.
Child Advocacy International
British Red Cross Former Yugoslavia Appeal
Save the Children
(please tick as appropriate)
Please post your donation(s) to: The Independent Children of War Appeal, c/o the Independent, PO Box 4011, London E14 5BB
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