Girl, 7, ‘making progress’ in Italy hospital after UK doctors gave up on her chance of living

Girl, 7, ‘making progress’ in Italy hospital after UK doctors gave up on her chance of living
Tafida Raqeeb before her traumatic brain injury. (Family handout)
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Updated 14 March 2022

Girl, 7, ‘making progress’ in Italy hospital after UK doctors gave up on her chance of living

Girl, 7, ‘making progress’ in Italy hospital after UK doctors gave up on her chance of living
  • Doctors said Tafida Raqeeb had no hope of survival, but she is now breathing on her own
  • Her parents will soon launch a fundraising campaign to build a brain-injury rehab clinic back home

LONDON: Tafida Raqeeb, a UK schoolgirl suffering from brain damage, is said to be recovering in an Italian hospital after British doctors gave up on her chances of survival.

Her parents won a historic court case allowing them to take their daughter to Italy to save her life.

Two and a half years after a blood vessel suddenly burst in her brain, Raqeeb is alive, having defied the gloomy predictions of her UK doctors.

In 2019, a UK High Court rejected an argument by medical professionals that Raqeeb could not be helped and should therefore have her life support turned off. The court cited the “sanctity of life” in its response.

Raqeeb was then moved to a hospital in Genoa, Italy, where doctors continued to support her. Within three months, they said, she was well enough to be moved out of intensive care.

Her parents, Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb, from East London, said Raqeeb has now started to breathe on her own without the need of a ventilator.

They said she has “continued to make progress, defying all the pessimistic expectations of the specialists from various different UK hospitals.”

While the Italian doctors never promised a cure, they said they could keep her alive to see whether her condition improves.

“She is doing well,” her mother told the Daily Mail. She said: “Anything could happen anytime to any one of us. A sudden brain injury could happen to your child, as it happened to my Tafida, and it was completely out of the blue.”

The young girl’s parents, inspired by their daughter’s journey, will soon begin a UK fundraising campaign for facilities like the one sustaining their daughter. They aim to raise £25 million ($32.56 million) to build a pediatric neurological rehabilitation center with space for 20 young children to recover from brain injuries.

“There is a severe shortage of rehabilitation and we want to ensure that every child is given an opportunity to fulfill their potential and maximize their recovery, by receiving the best therapies available in a family-centered purpose-built rehabilitation center.”

The Tafida Raqeeb Foundation said: “Unfortunately, the sole existing specialist neurological center in the UK has limited beds for children. There is therefore a huge shortfall and many children who could otherwise be helped are unable to access rehabilitation. The aim of the Tafida Raqeeb Foundation is to set up a pediatric neurological rehabilitation center which will offer hope to these children.”

Next week, the foundation will launch its fundraising campaign to build the new center. Around £2 million has already been raised, and the project has received support from medical experts.

Baroness Finlay, a House of Lords peer and professor of palliative medicine, said: “No one can predict the future — prognosis is a probabilistic art at best. When a child has a brain injury, improvement can happen with expert rehabilitation, but is very unlikely without it.”

She added: “We need to give each child the best chance when they could be helped back towards living well.”