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A girl who was given no hope of life by British doctors in 2019 is still alive thanks to treatment in Italy

When brain-damaged schoolgirl Tafida Raqeeb was disbarred by British doctors, her parents won a historic victory in the High Court to take her to Italy.

They had refused to accept the prognosis of the British doctors who said that their little girl would not live long.

And two and a half years later, Tafida is still hospitalized in Italy, defying the gloomy predictions.

Now Tafida’s mother and father want to save other families suffering from the same fate.

In an extraordinary project, they are raising money to build a £25million brain injury rehabilitation center in Britain for children who are not offered treatment by the NHS. Tafida’s family say £2million has already been raised and the project has the backing of medical experts.

Fighting back: Tafida Raqeeb has not been given any hope of life by British doctors. His parents won a historic victory in the High Court to take him to Italy for treatment.

Tafida was a healthy and happy four-year-old schoolgirl when she was suddenly struck in February 2019 when a blood vessel burst in her brain. She fell into a coma and doctors at three London hospitals battled to save her, before the Royal London Hospital said she was beyond hope.

In the fall of 2019, her life was on the line when the NHS asked the High Court to sanction the shutdown of her life support device – claiming she would die within weeks anyway.

But her devoted parents, lawyer Shelina Begum and construction consultant father Mohammed Raqeeb, refused to accept this and pleaded with the court to save their daughter, saying she responded to their presence.

In an extraordinary landmark decision in October 2019, a judge sided with the family. Citing the ‘sanctity of life’, Judge MacDonald gave the sick little girl a chance by rejecting the NHS offer.

Tafida was then transferred to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa. Within three months she was well enough to be discharged from intensive care and delighted her family by showing she could breathe on her own without the help of a ventilator for hours at a time.

Tafida is now seven years old and is still being treated at Gaslini, where her family say she has ‘continued to progress defying all the pessimistic expectations of specialists from different UK hospitals’.

Italian doctors never promised a cure, just more time to see if Tafida could come out of her condition. Last night her mum told the Mail: ‘She is fine. Miss Begum, 41, from Newham in east London, said Tafida’s recovery was continuing and more details would be revealed soon.

Tafida’s story has inspired the creation of a newly registered charity, the Tafida Raqeeb Foundation, and next week (22 MARCH) she is launching a campaign to build a medical center in the UK to treat children with brain damage.

The project has the support of Baroness Finlay, an unqualified colleague who is a doctor, professor of palliative medicine and former president of the Royal Society of Medicine. She said: “No one can predict the future – prognosis is at best a probabilistic art. When a child has a brain injury, improvement can occur with expert rehabilitation, but is highly unlikely without it. We must give every child the best chance, when they can be helped to live well.

The pediatric neurological rehabilitation center, capable of accommodating at least 20 young patients, would treat children after an accident or serious illness.

Miss Begum said: ‘Anything can happen to any of us at any time. A sudden brain injury could happen to your child, like it happened to my Tafida, and it was completely out of the blue.

“As Tafida’s mother, I know firsthand how traumatic this situation is and I want to bring hope in this darkness. There is a serious shortage of rehabilitation and we want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to reach their potential and maximize their recovery, receiving the best therapies available in a family-oriented rehabilitation center. Your support is essential to make this vision a reality.

The Tafida Raqeeb Foundation said: “Unfortunately the only existing specialist neurology center in the UK has limited beds for children. There is therefore a huge shortfall and many children who could otherwise be helped do not have access to rehabilitation. The goal of the Tafida Raqeeb Foundation is to create a pediatric neurological rehabilitation center that will offer hope to these children.

For more information visit www.tr-foundation.org

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