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'We just can't give up on her': Family's bid to save girl, five, in coma after brain injury

PUBLISHED: 12:23 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:54 16 July 2019

Tafida Raqeeb is in a coma after suffering a brain injury. Picture: Family handout

Tafida Raqeeb is in a coma after suffering a brain injury. Picture: Family handout

Family handout

The parents of a schoolgirl left in a coma after a sudden brain injury have launched a legal fight to take their daughter abroad and keep her alive.

The five-year-old's parents said that she The five-year-old's parents said that she "loved school". Picture: Family handout

Tafida Raqeeb, 5, from Upton Park, is in the Royal London Hospital after a blood vessel burst in her brain on February 9.

Doctors have told her parents there is no hope she will ever recover and have said there is no choice but to turn off life support.

Her parents, solicitor Shelina Begum and construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, say doctors at a hospital in Genoa, Italy have offered the family treatment. But they have been refused permission to move Tafida out of the country.

Ms Begum said: "Tafida was previously completely healthy, she was exceptionally bubbly, happy and friendly. She was consistently by my side and chosen as a helping hand monitor at school because of her caring and loving nature.

Tafida's family want to take her abroad for treatment. Picture: Family handoutTafida's family want to take her abroad for treatment. Picture: Family handout

"Tafida loved school and meeting new people. It is heartbreaking to see her like this and we just can't give up on her if there is any chance she could survive."

Tafida had a rare condition known as an AVM, which causes a tangle of blood vessels with abnormal connections between the arteries and veins. She was left unconscious after the rupture and suffered a respiratory and cardiac arrest.

She underwent seven hours of brain surgery at Kings Hospital before being transferred to the Royal London.

Her parents were later told that their daughter was brain dead. But they say doctors abroad have told them their daughter is in a coma and could get better.

Five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb is in a coma after suffering a brain injury. Picture: Family handoutFive-year-old Tafida Raqeeb is in a coma after suffering a brain injury. Picture: Family handout

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Ms Begum said: "We cannot switch off the ventilator. Tafida is making a little progress, such as opening her eyes and moving her limbs. Her stats have been stable for a long period of time. In April we were transferred to Royal London Hospital with confirmation that Tafida will have a tracheostomy.

"We were even told that we may be able to go home after a few months and her recovery could continue there. But now they tell us she is brain dead.

"I cannot believe this and we just want to give our daughter every chance she deserves. I know she may never fully recover but we just want to give her any chance we can."

A spokesman for Barts Health NHS Trust, which run 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 the child have determined, in discussion with additional independent medical experts elsewhere in London, that further invasive medical treatment is futile.

"As such we are engaging with the family to ensure we uphold the child's best interests, recommending withdrawal of life sustaining treatment and instigating palliative care."

On Friday two clinicians from the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa, Professor Lino Nobili, the chief of the paediatric neurology and paediatric psychiatry unit and Andrea Moscatelli, honorary professor of paediatric intensive care, examined Tafida by a video link arranged by the Royal London Hospital.

As a result of the examination the full team of clinicians confirmed they would be willing and able to care for Tafida and that in Italy she would not satisfy the conditions of brain death and so would not be a subject to withdrawal from life support.

But after the consultation doctors from Royal London "remained adamant" they would not allow the patient to leave, according to legal documents.

This week, Tafida's parents launched a judicial review at the High Court, asking senior judges to force the hospital to let her leave for treatment.

The family have started a petition to take their daughter to Italy, which has already been signed by more than 4,000 people.

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