Tafida Raqeeb, five, is in hospital after a blood vessel in her brain burst in her sleep
A desperately ill schoolgirl’s parents today launched an extraordinary legal battle to force doctors to keep her alive.
Five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb lies stricken in hospital, having suffered a sudden brain injury known as an AVM in February.
Doctors at the Royal London Hospital in East London have told her parents there is no hope she will recover, and it would be kinder to let her die, said her mother, Shelina Begum.
But Miss Begum, a 39-year-old solicitor, and her husband Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, a construction consultant, say other experts have told them their daughter is in a coma and could get better in a few months.
They have found doctors at a reputable hospital in Italy who are willing to try treating her, and want the right to be allowed to transfer Tafida there, at private expense.
Today they sent a ‘letter before action’ to the hospital trust and intend to lodge a judicial review at the High Court tomorrow, asking senior judges to force the hospital to let Tafida leave for treatment elsewhere.
Tafida’s mother said: ‘We are in a desperate situation and just want to save our daughter. She is not brain dead, she has shown signs of progress such as opening her eyes and moving her limbs.
‘There are experienced and respected doctors who are willing to treat Tafida, to give her the chance at life she so deserves. We simply want the chance to be allowed to try. It breaks our hearts to be told that she is not allowed to leave the hospital.
Tafida Raqeeb (pictured aged four) has been in hospital since February in a coma
Tafida Raqeeb was ‘bubbly, happy and healthy’ until being struck down in her bed by a sudden brain injury called AVM, which starved the brain of oxygen. She was rushed into surgery and given a one per cent chance of surviving the operation.
Tafida pictured with her father on holiday in Thailand last year, and right with brother Ishaq
‘We know Tafida’s chances may be small, but we cannot give up on her when there is a possible treatment that might work. If she is still fighting, then we have to carry on fighting for her.’
Tafida, who was in her first year of primary school in Newham, east London, was struck down on February 9 when a blood vessel in her brain burst as she slept.
She was rushed to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, but diverted on the way to King’s College Hospital where she was operated on by top neurosurgeons.
Tafida Raqeeb at Royal London Hospital, on her ventilator, pictured earlier this month
In April, she was transferred to the Royal London Hospital. Doctors there have told the family there is no hope she will recover, but her parents say she shows small signs, such as opening her eyes, and should be given a chance.
They say independent neurologists have given them hope that Tafida could come out of her coma in about a year.
The case, which has echoes of tragic Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, is expected to be heard in court later this week.
A spokesman for the Royal London Hospital said: ‘Last night Barts Health NHS Trust 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.’
A hospital source claimed that the medics in Italy had agreed they did not have any other treatments to offer that the NHS could not provide.
But the family said the Italians were offering to keep Tafida alive until she came out of her coma.