Tafida Raqeeb: Disabled girl moved to Italy is ‘fully awake’, mum says

The mother of a five-year-old girl who is severely disabled has said she will seek Italian citizenship for her so she can stay in hospital in Genoa for treatment.

Tafida Raqeeb arrived in Italy from the UK on Tuesday evening to stay at the Gaslini children’s hospital where doctors believe they can treat her.

Now her parents, Shelina Begum and Mohammed Raqeeb, say they hope their daughter will be able to get citizenship there to secure her future.

Tafida suffered ruptured blood vessels in her brain in February, which left her with catastrophic brain damage.

Doctors plan to give her a tracheotomy – a procedure to insert a tube into her windpipe – which should allow her to breathe without a ventilator.

Sky News’ correspondent Helen-Ann Smith, who travelled to Italy with the family, said Tafida’s first day there would be all about settling in, before doctors begin treatment, which will also include neurological rehabilitation and a feeding tube in her stomach.

She said Tafida’s mother showed her first public display of emotion during a press conference with doctors.

Ms Begum said: “I visited Tafida this morning, she is stable, she was awake, fully awake, turning her head from side to side. I told her that mummy and daddy are here and the whole family are coming.

“I just believe that since Tafida is in Italy it will be wise for her to have Italian citizenship.”

She said the family are crowdfunding for Tafida’s treatment but the money “should not run out”.

She added: “We do have financial sponsors in place. Should we not be able to raise the funds then the financial sponsors will come in and pay for the treatment.”

She has not disclosed how much the hospital is charging.

The family are the first to fight their case against an NHS trust in the High Court and win, and subsequently take their child abroad for treatment.

Ms Begum and Mr Raqeeb, of Newham, east London, had said they wanted life-saving treatment to continue, but doctors at the Royal London Hospital disagreed, and said it would be futile because she had no chance of recovery.

The doctors in Italy believe she is unlikely to recover, but are willing to continue her life-support treatment as they put more emphasis on the sanctity of life.

Her family hope treatment will mean she can go outside, which she hasn’t been able to do for eight months, and hope to take her to the beach at the Genoa hospital.

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