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Immigration: Child receives vital arm operation after legal battle

A young girl who was initially refused medical treatment because of the immigration status of her parents has finally received an operation on her arm, reports the BBC.

Sanika Ahmed was born in Portsmouth in July 2012 to parents of Bangladeshi origin. Her father, Muhammad Ahmed had worked in the UK legally in 2008 and 2009 but had overstayed in the UK after his work permit had expired.

Last year his wife Syeda gave birth to baby Sanika but there was a complication in labour and Sanika suffered an injury to her shoulder, damaging the nerves supplying her arm.

Sanika suffered an injury called an Erb's palsy. Erb's palsy is a form of nerve damage that causes a characteristic 'waiter's tip' appearance with a straight, outstretched arm and a flexed wrist such that the hand resembles a waiter requesting a tip.

The condition requires corrective surgery, but due to the family's illegal immigration status the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Middlesex initially refused to perform the operation.

Under UK law illegal immigrants are entitled to receive free emergency care and can currently register for free primary care with any GP practice; however, secondary hospital care not immediately necessary to save life can be withheld pending payment.

The Ahmeds decided to appeal the hospital's decision and instructed solicitors to seek out a judicial review. However, before the judicial review could take place the hospital changed its mind and completed the operation.

"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 feel it has," Mrs Ahmed told the BBC.


Baby Sanika Ahmed's arm surgery legal fight over (BBC News)