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Disabled five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb set to leave London hospital for Italy

The girl’s parents won a High Court life-support treatment battle with British hospital bosses earlier this month.

A judge ruled Tafida Raqeeb could be moved to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa, Italy (Family Handout/PA)
A judge ruled Tafida Raqeeb could be moved to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa, Italy (Family Handout/PA)

By Brian Farmer, PA

A severely disabled five-year-old girl who was at the centre of a high-profile life-support treatment fight is set to leave a London hospital and move to Italy.

Tafida Raqeeb’s parents won a High Court battle with British hospital bosses earlier this month, when a judge ruled the youngster could be moved to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa.

They say plans are in place to fly Tafida to Italy on Tuesday.

Solicitor Shelina Begum and construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, of Newham, east London, had said life-support treatment should continue.

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Shelina Begum holds a picture of her five-year-old daughter Tafida Raqeeb (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

They also said they should be allowed to move their daughter to a hospital of their choice.

Bosses at the London hospital where Tafida is being treated disagreed.

Specialists at the Royal London Hospital said further treatment would be futile because the youngster had permanent brain damage, was in a minimally conscious state and had no chance of recovery.

Mr Justice MacDonald ruled in favour of Tafida’s parents after analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London.

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Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb (right) outside the Royal Courts of Justice (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Lawyers told the judge that Tafida’s case had echoes of similar high-profile life-support treatment cases involving three children – Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Isaiah Haastrup.

Judges concluded that all three of those children should be allowed to die.

Barristers also said Tafida’s case was comparable to the case of a former hairdresser which hit the headlines eight years ago.

A judge ruled in 2011 that the woman, who had suffered brain damage and was in a minimally conscious state, should not be allowed to die.

Mr Justice Baker said the woman, then aged in her early fifties, should continue to receive life-support treatment. He said there was dignity in the life of a disabled person who was “well cared for and kept comfortable”.

Tafida’s parents said they thought their daughter had a “quality of life”.

They said they wanted to take Tafida to a country where she would keep getting life-support treatment and where doctors’ views on quality of life were in line with their own.

Lawyers representing Royal London Hospital bosses told Mr Justice MacDonald that blood vessels in Tafida’s brain were “tangled up”.

They said the youngster could not swallow, taste, see, breathe for herself, or “experience touch” in large parts of her body.

The judge was told that all doctors asked for an opinion, including Italian medics and a specialist at Great Ormond Street in London, agreed that Tafida would never come off a ventilator and would always need artificial assistance.

He heard how specialist doctors thought Tafida was “beyond experience”.

PA

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