UK

Erb's Palsy Baby Sanika Ahmed Denied Treatment Because Of Immigration Status, Given Life-Changing Operation

15/05/2013 18:25 BST | Updated 15/05/2013 18:52 BST

A baby who was denied NHS treatment because of her parents' immigration status despite the risk she could become paralysed has now been operated on by the hospital.

Sanika Ahmed was born in Hampshire to Bangladeshi parents but because their visa had expired, the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex initially refused her treatment.

The eight-month old was suffering from Erb's palsy and unless she had nerve graft surgery before she is nine months old, it was unlikely she would ever regain movement in her arm.

sanika ahmed

Sanika is now ten months old and recovering at home

Her parents Syeda and Muhammad Ahmed employed Swain & Co. Solicitors to begin legal action to reverse the heartbreaking decision ahead of a judicial review.

However before the deadline for surgery, the hospital had a change of heart and decided to treat Sanika, who is now ten months old and recovering in plaster at home.

Syeda said in a statement released by Swain& Co: “This (operation) only happened because of (the) publicity and I’d like to thank everyone who has helped Sanika with this.

“Most of the publicity was positive and we were pleased and surprised at how much support we received from so many people and the media. We are very grateful for that.

“Before Sanika’s operation took place I was very sad and very tense and apprehensive. But when I got the appointment I started to hope something good was going to come out of this and we feel it has.

“We have to wait six weeks (from 22nd April) before we know how successful operation has been and then the surgeon will tell us what is next for Sanika.

“There may have to be another operation – it is possible but not definite. They will examine Sanika and decide then.

“The surgeon was very happy with (the) way (the) operation went. He was very angry in the beginning and was asking why treatment had not started. When he heard about the problem straightaway he said there must be an appointment and that he wanted to see Sanika immediately. Within a week (the) appointment came through.

“It all happened very quickly in only two weeks after the pressure from the publicity and that’s why we are so grateful.”

The family, which includes Sanika’s brother Shuhani (now 3 years old) and sister Fariha (now 21 months old) who were born in Poole NHS Hospital, have applied for permission to permanently remain in the UK. Muhammad had worked legally in the UK until August 2009.

Solicitor Patrick Oliver, who is a clinical negligence specialist with Swain & Co. Solicitors says the Middlesex hospital’s decision to resume NHS treatment was “marvellous news” .

“Without further treatment Sanika would have faced a life with permanent disability and paralysis of her right arm through no fault of her own. But now she has every chance of making a full recovery. It is the outcome we all wanted for Sanika…”

A spokesperson for RNOH said as Sanika was now a patient they could not comment.