Mom of brain-injured 5-year-old: Docs want to pull plug to save ‘resources’

'They are not prepared to give Tafida another six months even though a top independent neurologist has confirmed that Tafida needs time.'
Tue Aug 13, 2019 - 8:30 pm EST
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Shelina Begum, mother of five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb. Good Morning Britain / YouTube

LONDON, August 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Shelina Begum believes that doctors wish to stop the life support of her brain-injured five-year-old daughter to save “resources.”

“I have received various internal information that it all boils down to resources,” she told the hosts of the Good Morning Britain talk show yesterday.

“They are not prepared to give Tafida another six months even though a top independent neurologist has confirmed that Tafida needs time.” 

The attorney and mother of two appeared on television yesterday to bring her five-year-old daughter’s case to the British public. Minimally conscious Tafida Raqeeb is in danger of her life because doctors at the National Health Service’s Royal London Hospital believe that it is in her best interest to be removed from life support and left to die.

The little girl’s parents disagree.

“Tafida is not dying. Tafida is not brain-dead,” Begum told the hosts of Good Morning Britain. “She is gradually, gradually improving every day. Tafida is getting stronger.”

The child suffered a ruptured blood vessel in her brain this February and, after a five-hour delay, received life-saving surgery. She is now in a minimally conscious state, and her London-based doctors believe she will never recover.

But Tafida’s parents, Shelina and Mohammad, believe that her condition is improving. They wish to take her to a hospital in Italy, where a medical team for the girl has already been assembled.

The NHS has gone to court in an attempt to prevent this.

Tafida is now on the lowest possible setting on the ventilator. Her mother said she is almost fully breathing for herself, and she is on the machine only because her lungs aren’t strong enough for its removal. Tafida moves her limbs and her face and can turn her head from side to side. 

Her parents first heard about the Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa from a friend whose child receives gene therapy there. The hospital has pledged to treat Tafida and allow her, if necessary, to remain on life support until she is brain-dead. This is standard medical policy in Italy, and one reason why the Bambino Gesù hospital was willing to treat another British child: the late Alfie Evans.

Talk show host Richard Madeley wondered what an Italian hospital could do that the “eminent” London hospital could not, England being “one of the best countries in the world for health care.” Tafida’s mother explained that the Giannina Gaslini Institute has had much experience with children with brain injuries and that its staff are willing to give Tafida a tracheotomy and then wait with her to see how well she can recover from her brain injury in six more months.

Host Kate Garraway asked the show’s “health editor,” Dr. Hilary Jones, why the hospital wouldn’t allow the child to be taken to Italy or give her the same treatment in Britain. Jones suggested that the hospital thinks it isn’t in the child’s best interest or that being taken to Italy would make the “very sick” child’s condition worsen. 

“How could it be worse than allowing the child to die?” Garraway asked.

“Hippocrates had a phrase, ‘Above all, do no harm’,” said Jones and then added, “Don’t officiously strive to keep alive,” which Hippocrates did not say. 

“Sometimes unconditional love can get in the way of the best interests of the child,” he continued.

The doctor does not believe that the Royal London Hospital is motivated by budget concerns. Jones said he had never come across a case in which a hospital refused to treat a child because staffers could not afford to do so “if there’s any prospect of life being preserved and of life being high-quality.”  

Madeley suggested that the Italian hospital might be motivated by money; the Raqeeb family is crowdfunding Tafida’s planned £100,000-plus treatment.

Shelina Begum pointed out that even more money will be spent by taxpayers on the NHS’s legal fees.

“Why do doctors feel they have to reduce parents’ rights?” she asked. “The moment a child goes into any kind of hospital, why do they feel they have to rush off to court?”

She says her family’s court costs alone have been estimated at £400,000. She naturally thinks the hospital’s legal costs would have been better spent on her daughter’s treatment.

Tafida’s mother had a last zinger for the hospital. When Garraway read out the NHS’s statement, Begum said that on its website, it had published a statement in which they had claimed to be “supporting the family.”

“I have written to all their directors, all the trustees. No one has come to speak with us. Instead, they’ve rushed in and submitted this court case to ask to terminate Tafida’s life,” she said.

  euthanasia, national health service, shalina begum, tafida raqeeb, united kingdom

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