Tafida should get chance to make whatever recovery she can, say parents

The parents of a five-year-old girl who has suffered brain damage and is in a minimally conscious state have told a High Court judge they want doctors to give her the best chance to make “whatever recovery she can”.

A barrister representing Tafida Raqeeb’s mother and father told Mr Justice MacDonald how the couple recognised that the youngster’s life expectancy may be “very limited”.

But David Lock QC said solicitor Shelina Begum, 39, and construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, thought doctors had reached a “definite view” too soon.

Mr Justice MacDonald has been asked to make decisions about Tafida’s future and began analysing evidence at a High Court trial in London on Monday.

Doctors treating Tafida, who turned five on June 10, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel say she has permanent brain damage and no chance of recovery.

Bosses at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, want Mr Justice MacDonald to rule that stopping life-support treatment is in the youngster’s best interests.

Tafida’s parents, who live in Newham, east London, want to move her to Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa, Italy, and have organised funding.

They say doctors there will keep providing life-support treatment until Tafida is diagnosed as being brain dead.

Mr Justice MacDonald has been told how Tafida woke her parents in the early hours in February complaining of a headache.

Tafida Raqeeb
Tafida Raqeeb has been left in a minimally conscious state (Family handout/PA)

She collapsed shortly afterwards and doctors discovered that blood vessels in her brain had ruptured.

The youngster has been left in a minimally conscious state.

“Tafida’s parents accept that their daughter has been left with profound physical and neurological disabilities and remains ventilator dependent,” Mr Lock told the judge.

“Whilst they recognise that she has suffered significant brain damage and her life expectancy may be very limited they feel it is too early to reach a definitive view on her prognosis.”

He added: “They therefore seek treatment for her that will give her the best opportunity to make whatever recovery she can.”

Tafida has begun a fight for her rights under European Union law.

Lawyers representing her have taken instructions from a relative.

They say the trust has refused to allow her parents to move her to Italy and argue that she is being denied her right to free movement under European Union law.

Vikram Sachdeva QC, who is leading Tafida’s legal team, told Mr Justice MacDonald: “As a matter of EU law, Tafida and her parents have, in principle, a right to elect to receive medical care in another EU state.”

He added: “By refusing her transfer, the trust is acting in breach of that right.”

Mr Sachdeva said the Italian view of what was in the best interests of children differed from the British view.

Doctors in London had concluded that Tafida’s quality of life would not benefit from continued life-support treatment.

But, he said, in Italy doctors did not stop life-support treatment until brain death – and Tafida was not brain dead.

Mr Sachdeva said doctors in Italy agreed with the diagnosis made by doctors in London, and were not offering “some experimental treatment”.

But, he said, they would continue to provide life-support treatment.

He said Tafida, who has a British-Bangladeshi background, came from a Muslim family and her parents took the view that only God could take life, not mankind.

The trial continues and is expected to end later this week.

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