British doctors to treat Indian girl despite deportation order

February 23rd, 2008 - 12:24 pm ICT by admin  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
London, Feb 23 (IANS) In an extraordinary move, a London hospital has decided to treat an Indian teenager suffering from a one-in-a-million disease in defiance of a deportation order served on her. Zarina Rentia, a 15-year-old girl suffering from the bone marrow disease Fanconi-Bickel Syndrome (FBS), was under deportation orders, having overstayed in Britain, when doctors at the University College London Hospital (UCH) stepped in Friday to offer treatment.

Earlier this month, Zarine had fallen seriously ill at another hospital in London, which referred her to UCH. But the Home Office ordered her to leave Britain before she could be admitted.

There have been only 112 other cases of FBS, a genetic disease, reported in medical history and Indian hospitals are thought to be unable to treat the condition.

“We were taking advice from the Home Office about her immigration status and they said her appeals had been exhausted and that we had no duty to treat her. That appears to be true, but even in light of that information we have decided to treat her here,” said Mark Palin, director of communications at UCH.

“We have had her test results. She will have a full consultation and then a decision will be taken on her treatment,” Palin told IANS.

Zarine, whose case has led to a campaign to persuade the government to allow her to be treated in Britain, was to have been admitted at UCH Friday evening.

Leaders of the Rentia Family Anti-Deportation Campaign were celebrating after the hospital decision.

“We are delighted but this should never have happened in the first place,” said Celine Barry, chair of the campaign.

“It is a shocking situation. The child should have treatment in this country,” she told IANS, adding doctors in India had been unable to diagnose Zarine as suffering from FBS, which causes liver, kidney and intestinal problems together with severely stunted growth.

Earlier this month, the Home Office dismissed Zarine’s case citing a lack of “sufficient compelling circumstances to justify her remaining in the UK.”

Immigration Judge Justice Herlihy said she had “enormous sympathy for Zarine” but was not satisfied her mother “has provided satisfactory evidence that Zarine’s symptoms cannot be treated in India”, despite reports to the contrary submitted by several specialist British doctors.

“It was a very wrong decision,” said Barry Friday.

Zarine’s case has been taken up by her north London school friends and teachers and by Labour MP Diane Abbot, who has initiated an Early Day Motion in parliament urging the home secretary “as a matter of urgency to allow her to remain in the United Kingdom on compassionate grounds”.

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