HIV-contaminated young girl ‘won’t grieve her yesterdays’

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Reham al-Hakami, the 13-year-old victim of a botched blood transfusion at a hospital in Saudi Arabia, has returned to school after more than six months.

The HIV-contaminated blood the sickle cell patient received during a routine blood transfusion at Jazan General Hospital kept her out of school during the second semester of the last academic year.

After the gross medical error was discovered, Reham was transferred to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh for necessary examinations and treatment. She took her school examinations at the hospital, passed the tests and advanced from elementary to the intermediate level.

On the school reopening day after the summer break, Reham’s teachers organized a function to welcome her back and to celebrate her recovery. The festivity included welcoming speeches by teachers and students.

Reham said she was overjoyed by the reception of her teachers and fellow students.

She said this expression of love and friendship has greatly helped improve her mental state, and she felt optimistic about her future. She said her mother attended the festivities in the school.

Fatimah al-Hadi, the school principal, said the festivities were a token for Reham who was loved by all even before she got sick and got national attention.

“She was an innocent victim who had to go through a very difficult experience because of sheer negligence by the hospital staff,” Hadi said.

Hadi said the school function was meant to reassure Reham that she was among her second family.

Reham’s aunt quoted Reham as saying, “If I had lost yesterday, then I have today in my hands, and if today departs, then I have tomorrow waiting for me.”

Reham said would not grieve her yesterdays, as they will not come back.

Meanwhile, Reham’s family said they were ready to submit a letter to Jazan Emir Prince Muhammad Bin Nasser and another letter to the director of Jazan Health Affairs requesting the laboratory technician to be absolved of the responsibility for the medical mistake.

Director of Jazan Health Affairs Dr. Mubarak Aseeri will submit a report to the Ministry of Health in this regard, said the directorate’s spokesman Mohammad Semaili.

The spokesman for Jazan governorate, Ali Zalah, said if Reham’s family was ready to forgive the technician, the governorate “will do its best and communicate with the concerned authorities to consider the matter.”

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