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Tafida Raqeeb arrives in Italy – after winning landmark legal battle against NHS

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The mother of a severely disabled five-year-old girl spoke of her relief after safely arriving in Italy for treatment – after winning a historic legal battle earlier this month.

Shelina Begum, 40, told her daughter, Tafida Raqeeb that being in the care of doctors at Gaslini hospital in Genoa is ‘a new beginning’.

Tafida was sent into a coma when a blood vessel burst in her brain in February.

NHS doctors had pronounced she had no hope of recovery and asked the High Court to sanction letting her die.

Shelina Begum, 40, (left) said a 'massive weight has been lifted' now her daughter, Tafida Raqeeb (right) is in the care of doctors at Gaslini hospital in Genoa. Miss Begum is pictured keeping a beside vigil after the brain-damaged five-year-old started new treatment

Shelina Begum, 40, (left) said a ‘massive weight has been lifted’ now her daughter, Tafida Raqeeb (right) is in the care of doctors at Gaslini hospital in Genoa. Miss Begum is pictured keeping a beside vigil after the brain-damaged five-year-old started new treatment

But, in a legal victory that stunned the medical profession, a judge sided with the family – citing ‘the sanctity of life’ – and allowed them to transfer her to the Gaslini hospital in Genoa. 

Italian doctors told the family that Tafida could be back home in Newham, east London, ‘in a year’.

Miss Begum, a solicitor, told The Sun: ‘I used to think doctors were second only to God. That belief was shattered when I was told by the NHS that saving my daughter was ‘futile’.’ 

Eight months on life support in England have not damaged Tafida’s lungs and heart, scans have shown, and Miss Begum hopes that Tafida will soon be out of bed. 

The Learjet air ambulance - which almost didn't leave due to bad weather in Genoa -landed in Biggin Hill airfield, Kent, on Tuesday to transfer Tafida. Pictured: Tafida on a stretcher arrives at Genoa's Cristoforo Colombo Airport

The Learjet air ambulance – which almost didn’t leave due to bad weather in Genoa -landed in Biggin Hill airfield, Kent, on Tuesday to transfer Tafida. Pictured: Tafida on a stretcher arrives at Genoa’s Cristoforo Colombo Airport

Italian doctors told the family that Tafida could be back home in Newham, east London, 'in a year'. Pictured: Tafida is transported to the hospital

Italian doctors told the family that Tafida could be back home in Newham, east London, ‘in a year’. Pictured: Tafida is transported to the hospital

Eight months on life support in England have not damaged Tafida's lungs and heart, scans have shown, and Miss Begum hopes that Tafida will soon be out of bed

Eight months on life support in England have not damaged Tafida’s lungs and heart, scans have shown, and Miss Begum hopes that Tafida will soon be out of bed

The Learjet air ambulance – which almost didn’t leave due to bad weather in Genoa -landed in Biggin Hill airfield, Kent, on Tuesday.

Dr Andrea Moscatelli, head of the neurological department, said Tafida would undergo a tracheostomy operation. 

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, he said: ‘The idea is to make life more comfortable for her – take out the tubes from her mouth and let her breathe through a tube to her throat, and be fed through a tube to her stomach. We will give her time to get better.

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‘The objective is to transition her from intensive care to home care. 

Tafida had a seven-hour operation after the blood vessel burst in her brain. She was given a one per cent chance of survival before falling into a coma. Pictured: Miss Begum is welcomed in Italy

Tafida had a seven-hour operation after the blood vessel burst in her brain. She was given a one per cent chance of survival before falling into a coma. Pictured: Miss Begum is welcomed in Italy

Miss Begum, a solicitor, told The Sun : 'I used to think doctors were second only to God. That belief was shattered when I was told by the NHS that saving my daughter was 'futile'.' Pictured: Miss Begum during a press conference on Wednesday

Miss Begum, a solicitor, told The Sun : ‘I used to think doctors were second only to God. That belief was shattered when I was told by the NHS that saving my daughter was ‘futile’.’ Pictured: Miss Begum during a press conference on Wednesday

‘We will teach the parents how to care for her at home. We have spoken to them very openly. Our assessment is exactly the same as the doctors in the UK, so we are not giving them false hope. But what we can give them is time.

‘After such a brain injury, nobody can say in just six months what is her potential for recovery. In the medical literature, you wait one year to see.’ 

Tafida’s family are funding her stay with public and private donations. They have applied for her to become an Italian citizen, which would reduce their bills.

Dr Andrea Moscatelli, head of the neurological department, said Tafida would undergo a tracheostomy operation. Pictured: Director of Neonatal and Paediatric ICU Andrea Moscatelli (left) and Director of Intensive Care at the Giannina Gaslini Institute Luca Ramenghi (right)

Dr Andrea Moscatelli, head of the neurological department, said Tafida would undergo a tracheostomy operation. Pictured: Director of Neonatal and Paediatric ICU Andrea Moscatelli (left) and Director of Intensive Care at the Giannina Gaslini Institute Luca Ramenghi (right)

Their local lawyer, Filippo Martini, said: ‘After [the similar cases of] Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, for the first time it has been decided that the best interests of a sick child allows them to be treated in a European hospital.’

He said Alfie’s father, Tom, was planning to visit Tafida in Italy.

Tafida had a seven-hour operation after the blood vessel burst in her brain. She was given a one per cent chance of survival before falling into a coma. 

She was then given 24 hours to live but opened her eyes after two weeks.

The family have raised around £35,000 of a £400,000 target to fund their costs.

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