Family of girl who died after being born with serious brain injuries support new charity

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Family of girl who died after being born with serious brain injuries support new charity

The parents of Alta Fixsler are backing the Tafida Raqeeb Foundation, which will launch in London on 22 March

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Alta Fixsler with her parents.
Alta Fixsler with her parents.

Alta Fixsler’s father Abraham has said he “fully supports” a new charity being set up by a Muslim family for children with neurological conditions and hopes the Jewish community gets behind it.

Alta was a young girl from a Chasidic Jewish family in Manchester who suffered serious brain injuries after being deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period at birth. She could not breathe, drink, or eat without medical help.

Her parents sought the courts’ permission to transfer her to Israel for treatment not available in the UK, but British judges ruled instead that it was in her best interests to be placed on a palliative care pathway and she died late last year, aged two.

Now two Muslim parents, whose daughter Tafida developed a serious and sudden neurological disorder, are setting up the charity in her name, with support from Jacob Lyons, who is active in Jewish communal politics, as well as Abraham Fixsler.

Tafida was five years old when, in February 2019, she was put on life-support after suffering a traumatic brain injury. Later that year, Barts Health NHS Trust tried to block her from being taken abroad for more treatment, arguing that ending her life support was in her best interests. She is currently being treated in Italy, aged seven. Her condition is unknown.

“Alta’s situation would have been similar to Tafida’s if she had been allowed to go abroad for treatment,” Abraham said this week, speaking to Jewish News.

“I support the charity because no-one should go through what we’ve been through, what Tafida’s parents went through. The centre will be a very important thing to have in the UK. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, you want to keep your child alive, to give them a chance to live.”

The Tafida Raqeeb Foundation will launch in London on 22 March with the aim of raising £25m to build a specialist paediatric neurology centre in north London to take advantage of the recent advances in medical technology.

The aim is to “reduce disability and improve function in children to maximise their potential” and to “facilitate new learning and assist in regaining skills”. Novel treatments will also be used, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy, laser therapy, hydrotherapy, and MNRI, which is designed to help integrate primitive reflexes.

All of these are used successfully in other countries but are not offered in the UK, said the charity, as Fixsler pledged his help. “I’ll do my best to support it and I believe the Jewish community will also support it,” he said. “No-one wants what happened to us to happen again.”

Tafida’s mother Shelina Begum felt the need for better intervention. “Anything could happen at any time to any one of us, as the pandemic has shown,” she said. “A sudden brain injury could happen to your child as it happened to my Tafida and it was completely out of the blue.”

Begum, a lawyer who supported the Fixsler family in their efforts to overturn several British court judgements, said the experience was “traumatic”, adding that there was “a severe shortage of rehabilitation” options for children in the UK who had suffered significant neurological injury.

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