By Mark Hodges
Editor’s note. Mr. Hodges is a researcher for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
In a culture of death, British doctors destroy chance for life.
Such is the case right now for Tafida Raqeeb, who is dying in a London hospital because her doctors refuse to release her to where she could be cured.
The little five year-old has a rare and fatal blood vessel condition called “arteriovenous malformation.” Specialists in Italy have expertise in treating that very condition, but the Royal London Hospital is keeping Tafida literally imprisoned in their facility.
The Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa has assembled a medical team for Tafida, and is in contact with her doctors in London. The Sun quotes the Institute’s Italian doctors as predicting, “There is a good chance she will emerge from the coma she is in.”
Yogi Amin, a human rights lawyer representing Tafida, assured decision-makers that:
“there is no evidence that Tafida will be harmed during transit or abroad, and her loving parents should have a legal right to elect to transfer their daughter to another hospital for private medical care.”
Still, the UK hospital refuses to even let Tafida’s parents take her for a potential healing in Italy at their own expense.
In fact, The Sun reports that the British doctors are suing to pull the plug on Tafida, saying, “It would be better for her to be left to die.”
And a totally separate lawsuit by Barts NHS Trust seeks to give hospitals the legal right to cut off all medical care if a patient in Tafida’s condition gets worse.
But Tafida’s parents, Shelina and Mohammed, have taken their fight for their daughter’s life to the High Court.
European Union law and Human Rights attorney Jason Coppel QC charged that Tafida’s “confinement is against her will.” He emphasized the key point, that “Her parents are the sole people who currently have the legal right to make decisions for her.”
Despite Tafida’s life or death condition, Justice MacDonald delayed making any decision until the fall. He only said he will hear both the parents’ and the hospital’s sides in September.
But time is of the essence. Ron Liddle of the Sun opined,
“I can understand doctors telling Mohammed and Shelina there is nothing more that they can do for their little girl. What is beyond belief — beyond imagination — is that they would insist on keeping the child there to die when there is genuine hope she might be cured.”
“I am not a medical expert, …but I do know that if there is hope for Tafida, the longer they wait to treat her, the less likely there will be a good outcome.”
Tafida’s case is similar to the case of two-year-old Alfie Evans. Alfie had a GABA-transaminase deficiency, and his mom and dad wanted to take him to Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù hospital for experimental treatment. That facility in Rome was ready and waiting to care for Alfie.
But Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital refused to release Alfie.
Attorney Coppel (who now represents Tafida) argued in Alfie’s last chance attempt –after his doctors had his ventilator unplugged for two days– to get Alfie to specialists at Bambino Gesù. At the time, Alfie was breathing on his own and could have made the trip to Rome.
But the judge ruled against parental rights, and little Alfie languished three more days in Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital until he died.
Similarly, nearly one-year-old Charlie Gard was diagnosed with Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, and his mom and dad sought to get him to the United States for experimental treatment.
British doctors sued to unplug Charlie’s breathing machine so he would die, instead of releasing Charlie to his parents in the hopes that he might be helped by American specialists.
New York’s Presbyterian Hospital was ready for Charlie (as was Bambino Gesù in Rome), but British judges blocked Charlie’s parents, and he quickly died after his air was cut off.
It seemed to many that the Brits –both physicians and judges– had stepped over the line from “doing no harm” to denying potentially beneficial treatment based on futile care theory.
Another child, eight-year-old Ashya King, was in Southampton suffering from a brain tumor. His parents were concerned about his treatment, and wanted to take him for proton therapy elsewhere.
When the hospital refused to acknowledge parental rights and release Ashya, Brett and Naghemeh King snuck their son out of the hospital –making them fugitives for the sake of their son’s life.
A European continent-wide manhunt was launched against Ashya’s parents. They were finally apprehended in Spain.
But their little Ashya was given treatment –which is what the now “criminal” parents were seeking all along.
The illegally-sought treatment cured Ashya. Today Ashya is cancer-free, with no brain damage from his now non-existent tumor.
The Sun’s Ron Little reported.
“The parents were right. The doctors were horribly wrong,” “Our medical professionals are, by and large, brilliant. But there is sometimes a grotesque arrogance and pigheadedness about them.”
The Anglican Church also hasn’t helped. Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster said he would pray for Tafida, but he offered no support for Tafida’s life or for her parents’ heartbreaking plight.
Sherrington even equated the hospital’s lawsuit for Tafida’s death with her parents’ fight for her life. “I hope that all due weight will be given to the wishes of her parents, while also respecting the clinical judgment of the doctors caring for her,” he hopelessly and irreconcilably stated. “Those of us not in possession of all the relevant information might best be reserved in our judgment.”
In Italy, life-support is not withdrawn from children unless they are declared “brain-dead.” Tafida is not “brain-dead,” and may be able to make it –as long as doctors do not unplug her ventilator– until her preliminary hearing in September.