Tafida’s parents prepare for new battle as hospital bosses consider appeal

A couple who have been given the go-ahead to move their severely disabled five-year-old daughter to an Italian hospital are preparing to fight another legal battle.

Tafida Raqeeb’s parents won a High Court fight on Thursday when a judge ruled that the youngster could be moved to the Gaslini children’s hospital in Genoa.

Solicitor Shelina Begum, 39, and construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, 45, of Newham, east London, hope to move Tafida to Italy in the next 10 days in the wake of Mr Justice MacDonald’s decision.

But bosses at the hospital where Tafida is being treated could try to overturn the judge’s ruling in the Court of Appeal.

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

They said they were looking at the implications of the decision and considering appealing.

Mr Justice MacDonald is listed to oversee a further hearing on Friday, when lawyers representing the trust could ask for Tafida’s move to be halted pending an appeal.

Tafida’s parents say they will be at that hearing.

Specialists at the Royal London Hospital, where Tafida is receiving life-support, had opposed a move to Italy.

They 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.

Lawyers representing Tafida had asked him to rule that she could be moved to Italy.

They had taken instructions from a relative and their application was backed by Tafida’s parents.

Ms Begum and Mr Raqeeb said doctors at the Gaslini would keep providing life-support treatment until Tafida was diagnosed as brain dead.

They said Tafida, who has a British-Bangladeshi background, was from a Muslim family and Islamic law only allowed God to end life.

Mr Justice MacDonald, who had analysed evidence at a recent High Court trial in London, said he had decided “on a fine balance” that it was in Tafida’s best interests for “life sustaining treatment” to continue.

He said there could be no justification for stopping her parents moving her to the Italian hospital if they wanted to.

Ms Begum said after the ruling that the fight had been exhausting and traumatic.

Shelina Begum
Shelina Begum said the fight had been exhausting (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

She said the family’s priority was to move Tafida to the Gaslini at the earliest opportunity.

A lawyer representing Tafida’s parents said they hoped to transfer the child in the next 10 days.

Lawyers had told Mr Justice MacDonald 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.

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

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

Specialists say Tafida could live for years with life-support treatment.

But they say she cannot swallow, taste or see.

A barrister representing Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, had told the judge that all doctors who were asked for an opinion, including Italian medics and a specialist at Great Ormond Street in London, said Tafida would never come off a ventilator and would always need artificial assistance.

Doctors thought the little girl was “beyond experience”, the judge was told.

Ms Begum said Tafida was “not dying”.

She said relatives were “continuously seeing small but important signs that she is gradually improving”.

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