Saudi girl undergoing HIV treatment wants to go home for Ramadan

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Reham Al-Hakami, the 13-year-old Saudi girl who was given HIV-tainted blood at Jazan General Hospital in February and now under treatment, appealed to the Minister of Health to allow her to spend Ramadan and Eid at her birthplace in Jazan after spending four months of treatment and analyses.

She made this plea with the innocence and spontaneity of a child during the reporter’s visit to the place the Ministry of Health has arranged for her outside the hospital in order for her to have some recreation.

Reham said, “I want you to write in your newspaper a letter to the Minister of Health, who visited me in the hospital. I request him to allow me to go to Jazan to spend Ramadan and Eid with my family and friends there. I don’t like to spend Ramadan in Riyadh. I say to him: ‘Would you accept for your daughter to spend Ramadan and Eid enclosed by four walls? I request him to allow me to go.’”

Meanwhile, Reham’s mother told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that she and her husband had to bring their seven children to Riyadh to spend part of Ramadan with their sister. She said they requested the hospital to allow Reham to spend the rest of Ramadan and Eid in her home, especially as she is not receiving any treatment at this stage. “All they give her every night when she returns to the hospital is drips.”

The hospital had allowed Reham out conditionally. She has to return to the hospital to spend the night there.

Reham’s father told Okaz/Saudi Gazette, “It is frustrating that when we request the hospital to release Reham as long as the treatment she is being provided can be given in Jazan, the reply is that there is need to follow up on her bile, which they say is high, and there ought to be an order from the ministry. When we go to the ministry, it says we must get permission from the doctor treating her.”

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on July 14, 2013.

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