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Tafida Raqeeb: Parents of five-year-old girl in coma launch legal challenge to decision to allow her to die

Family want to take child out of UK for treatment, as in case of baby Charlie Gard

Peter Stubley
Tuesday 16 July 2019 20:49 BST
Tafida Raqeeb collapsed at her home in east London in February after suffering a ruptured blood vessel
Tafida Raqeeb collapsed at her home in east London in February after suffering a ruptured blood vessel (PA)

The parents of a seriously ill five-year-old girl have launched a legal challenge after doctors decided she should be allowed to die.

Tafida Raqeeb suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her brain in February and remains in a coma at the Royal London Hospital.

Medical experts have concluded that further surgery is “futile” and have recommended the withdrawal of life support.

However, the family believe Tafida could still recover if given more time and want to take her to a children’s hospital in Italy for further treatment.

Mother Shelina Begum, a 39-year-old solicitor, and father Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, lodged papers with the High Court on Tuesday morning to seek a review of the case.

“Our daughter is currently stable,” she said. “Everything with the hospital is amicable but we want to take her to Italy to give her the best chance.”

It comes two years after the parents of Charlie Gard waged a high-profile court battle to take him to the US for experimental treatment for a rare genetic condition.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates had argued that their baby son still had a chance to survive but life support was withdrawn in July 2017 after judges ruled that he should be allowed to “die with dignity”.

Ms Begum, from Newham, east London, has also launched a petition urging the Royal London Hospital to release her daughter.

She states that Tafida was a healthy child before suffering a traumatic brain injury due to arteriovenous malformation (AVM).

“On 9 February, Tafida collapsed at home and suffered a cardiac and respiratory attack,” the petition continues.

Five-year-old Tafida is on life support at the Royal London Hospital (PA)

“She was rushed to the local hospital and later transferred to a specialist hospital for brain surgery. Post-surgery, the neurosurgeons had told the family that the first 48 hours to one week would be critical for her but like the determined little child we knew her as, she fought hard.

“Five months later, Tafida is beginning to show some signs of progress, such as reacting to pain, movement of limbs and opening and closing of eyes.”

The family say they were initially told by doctors that she might be able to go home after a few months to continue her recovery.

“However, the medical team have now changed their mind and want to withdraw ventilation to end her life.

“Tafida’s parents are very distraught as they have seen their little daughter make progress in the five months that she has been in intensive care; and therefore have requested to allow more time for her recovery.

“Unfortunately, the plea fell on deaf ears, and so not wanting to leave any stone unturned, they researched foreign treatment.

“They have found a European hospital willing to continue treatment for Tafida but sadly, RLH are refusing to release her.

“We would like to request Royal London Hospital to give this five-year-old child a chance to make a recovery and allow her to be transferred to a hospital that is willing to take care of her and continue with her treatment.”

The petition to the UK parliament has attracted more than 6,000 signatures since it was set up on Monday evening.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, said: “This is a very sad case, for which we are in close contact with the family to offer support.

“Our expert clinicians caring for Tafida Raqeeb have determined, in discussion with additional independent medical experts elsewhere in London, that further invasive medical treatment is futile.

“As such we are ensuring that we keep the family involved and uphold Tafida’s best interests, recommending withdrawal of life sustaining treatment and instigating palliative care.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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