Fatima, 13, in happier times. She is currently battling for her life in a UAE hospital and is desperate for support. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A 13-year-old Filipina girl in the UAE fighting for her life in a hospital, desperately requires support.

An abandoned child, Fatima is being cared for by a Sharjah-based couple, who are seeking support for her treatment which involves plasma replacement and chemotherapy.

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She has been unconscious since April 9, the couple, Syed Ali Moazzam and his wife Muozzama, said.

They said Fatima still does not have a residence visa, Emirates ID or medical insurance.

“She never managed to go to school. We have been teaching her at home though she always longed to go to school,” said Muozzama.

According to the couple and a medical report issued, Fatima started experiencing symptoms like facial swelling, a rash on her face, swelling around her eyes and joint pain late last month.

Her symptoms started two days after taking oral antibiotics for a tooth infection. She was admitted to a hospital for a week and diagnosed with subcutaneous lupus erythematosus. Tests showed positive results for certain antibodies indicating lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s organs and tissues.

She was treated with topical steroids and discharged after six days. However, a few days later, Fatima’s health suddenly deteriorated. “Her left arm and leg had stopped working and she was crying in pain. Seeing Fatima’s deteriorating condition, we immediately called an ambulance which took her to another hospital,” said Muozzama.

She was admitted with weakness on both sides of her body, more on the left, along with dystonia (a movement disorder that causes the muscles to contract involuntarily) and altered consciousness, possibly indicating encephalopathy, said the medical report.

A CT scan of her brain showed involvement of the basal ganglia on April 9. On the morning of the same day, doctors repeated a CT scan that revealed cerebral edema. She had stopped speaking and even responding with her eyes. “The last thing she said was this is my mother and this is my dad when the doctor asked her to identify us. We have not heard her speak after that,” said Muozzama.

After four days, she was transferred to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in the hospital where she is being treated currently. Fatima has also developed a lower respiratory tract infection, requiring oxygen support through nasal tubes.

“Her plasma therapy started on April 14. They started chemotherapy the next day,” said Moazzam.

“For her life and survival, she will need long-term treatment but financial issues are a big hurdle as we cannot afford the expenses. Even charity associations need residency proof to assist us. So we want to appeal for support to save Faitima,” he said.

Brave and smart

Muozzama said Fatima is a voracious reader and runs a YouTube vlog where she posts videos of her activities. In one such video, Fatima can be seen wearing a soldier’s uniform and saying she wore it because she wanted to be brave and happy forever. “All the children who are watching this video, make sure to be brave, smart and never give up, like me…Kids if you are watching this, do not give up, okay?” she says.

Muozzama added: “Fatima wants to go to school, she often looks at the school buses and students from the balcony of our flat and asks Allah why she cannot go to school. She cannot travel anywhere. She has gone to the airport with us only to receive people. She wishes that she can also travel and enjoy her life.”