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5 Aug, 2020 19:50

‘Where was the dignity?’ Parents of dead 6-year-old speak out on brutal bedside arrest & manhandling at UK hospital

‘Where was the dignity?’ Parents of dead 6-year-old speak out on brutal bedside arrest & manhandling at UK hospital

A couple whose daughter was taken off life support against their wishes has won a court battle to publish footage of their brutal treatment by UK cops. Rashid and Aliya Abbasi spoke to RT on seeking justice for young Zainab.

After winning the right to have footage of Rashid’s brutal arrest at his dying daughter’s bedside made public on Friday, the respiratory doctor and his wife – also a trained physician – are determined to stop such heinous maltreatment by “bad apples” in the NHS from continuing, they told RT UK on Tuesday.

Up and down the country families are taken into side rooms and told their child will be taken off ventilation…and they don’t have the knowledge we have, or the experience my husband has in the respiratory field,” Aliya explained. “They can’t speak up for their children.” 

There’s a paternalistic attitude within the NHS, and it should have gone long ago.

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The couple were blindsided with the news that doctors were taking their critically-ill daughter Zainab off life support last August, which represented “a complete U-turn” from the promise of “maximized care” they say they’d been given the previous day. “It was a non-negotiable death sentence on the little one,” Rashid said.

Their attempts to reason with the doctors – pointing out she had come off the ventilator twice before and could potentially do so again – were ignored, despite their medical expertise and Zainab’s previous recoveries. Police were called to the little girl’s bedside to remove the parents as they refused to leave their child alone.

Police bodycam footage, finally released on Friday after the couple successfully challenged “draconian” reporting restrictions that kept it under wraps for nearly a year, shows most of what happened next. After using a metal implement to separate the father’s hand from his daughter’s, police forcefully restrained Rashid so violently he suffered a heart attack, handcuffing him and strapping his legs together while disdainfully accusing him of “acting like an animal.” They ignored his pleas for the heart medication he had in his pocket for close to half an hour. Aliya was grabbed from behind and knocked to the ground as she resisted being pulled away from her child.

We were treated like common criminals,” Aliya said, adding that Rashid was only “de-arrested” after she sought out the arresting officer and explained what had preceded the horrific scene by Zainab’s bedside.

They suddenly realized what a big mistake they had made, but it never should have got to that point. There was no reason to behave the way they did.

Aliya is certain the NHS wouldn’t have dared treat them so horribly if there had been witnesses on the ward – or if they were white. “If our names were Jack and Jill or whatever, we would not be in this situation. This would not have happened. I can’t imagine that they would have this done to a white doctor, a white medical consultant sitting by his little blond daughter on a bed.”

By the time the couple was able to get their case to give Zainab potentially lifesaving high-dose steroid treatment in front of a judge – “we literally said it was do or die” – it was too late. “We actually said to him she’s not going to make it till tomorrow, and she died at ten in the morning,” Aliya said.

Zainab had been diagnosed with Niemann-Pick disease, an incurable genetic malady, in 2016 and lost the ability to speak after her first stint on the ventilator. She died in September, less than a month after her parents’ nightmarish encounter with the authorities. Aliya said the couple and their three sons still “feel like the light and soul has left our home” without their only daughter.

Reliving the suffering they went through with their daughter is difficult, but the Abbasis want to spare other families a similar fate. Having worked for the NHS for over 30 years, Rashid recognizes there are “rogue elements” that must be rooted out. “People working for NHS should not be allowed to give it a bad name by acting in the way that they acted,” he said, adding that he is deeply troubled by the fact that the NHS trust that employs him has not made any official statements of apology to the family.

My human rights were violated visibly, but what is missing is recognition that Zainab had rights of a dying child,” Rashid pointed out. “She had a normal human being’s right to have the closeness of her family…This was not taken into consideration.”

Although she was condemned to death, her last wishes, nobody cared for them.

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