Tafida: Court Says Parents Can Seek Treatment Abroad

Peter Russell

October 03, 2019

The parents of Tafida Raqeeb won a High Court battle in their bid to move their daughter from a UK hospital to Italy for treatment.

Specialists at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, who were caring for the disabled 5-year-old, said further treatment would be futile because she would not recover from arteriovenous malformation.

However, her parents, Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb, from Newham in East London, disagreed with doctors caring for their daughter who argued that she should be allowed to die. They argued that their daughter was from a Muslim family and that their faith said that only God could take the decision to end her life.

'We Have Always Been Hopeful'

The parents launched a fundraising campaign as part of their fight to take their daughter to Gaslini Children's Hospital in Genoa, where they said doctors had offered to care for her.

Following the ruling, Shelina Begum, Tafida's mother, insisted that their daughter was not dying. "We have always been hopeful that she might make something of a recovery if she is given the time and the right treatment," she said.

Barrister David Lock QC, who represented them, commented: "My clients have asked me to express their profound thanks" for a ruling that had come as an "enormous relief" to them.

Mr Lock added that the child's parents just "wanted to get on with the transfer".

The High Court heard that Tafida collapsed after telling her parents one morning in February this year that she had a headache.

Last month, Barts Health NHS Trust said it was "a very sad medical case and difficult for everyone involved". However, they said that following discussion with medical specialist clinicians caring for Tafida they had been advised "that further medical treatment would not improve her condition and would not be in her best interests".

'A Finely Balanced Case'

In his judgement, Mr Justice Macdonald said it was a "very finely balanced case and one that I have wrestled with in reaching my decision".

The case, which was heard in the week of the 9th September, was made up of two parts: a judicial review to determine whether it was lawful for Tafida to travel to Italy to continue to receive life sustaining care, and a hearing to determine the best interests of Tafida in relation to her ongoing care.

Mr Macdonald said: "I am satisfied, on a fine balance, that it is in Tafida's best interests for life sustaining treatment to continue" and that she could be taken to Italy for treatment."

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust said in a statement:  “We followed the guidance of the General Medical Council and referred this tragic case to the Family Division of the High Court to reach an independent view about Tafida’s best interests.

"The High Court weighed up clinical and ethical considerations and decided on the balance of evidence that life-sustaining treatment should continue. After careful consideration regarding the wider implications of the judgment, we have decided not to appeal.

"Our doctors and nurses will continue to provide Tafida with the best possible care as long as she continues to be our patient. We will also support the family as they make alternative arrangements for Tafida’s care.

Editor's Note: This artice was updated to include a revised statement from Barts Health NHS Trust.

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