HIV child’s family bristles at morbid interest

March 16, 2013

The father of Reham Al Hakami, the 12-year-old Saudi girl who was administered HIV-infected blood in a botched transfusion, has denied rumours that she has died.

“The reports circulated on social networks and microblogs about Reham’s death are not true,” the father said. “Reham is doing fine and she is in good health. She is receiving treatment at the King Fahd Hospital in Riyadh,” he was quoted as saying by the Sabq news site on Tuesday.

Reham’s uncle, Mohammad Al Hakami, said that the family had been receiving calls from people wanting to know if the rumours that had flooded the internet on Monday were true.

“Some people called us as early as dawn to enquire about her,” he said. “She is doing fine and I do hope that people will refrain from propagating such baseless rumours. We do urge people to pray for her because that is what she needs now,” he said.

Al Hakami said that doctors are now more optimistic about Reham. “She will undergo a three-month treatment followed by a covalescence period. She will then have another six months of treatment,” he told local Arabic daily Al Sharq.

Reham’s case last month sparked outrage in Saudi Arabia after it came to light that she was given contaminated blood during a blood transfusion at Jizan’s General Hospital. Activists, focus groups and columnists sought prompt action to extend all required assistance to Reham, who suffers from sickle-cell anaemia, while demanding stringent measures against those found guilty of negligence.

Reham, a sixth grader from a difficult economic background, was eventually taken to Riyadh. The Health Ministry offered its apologies to Reham and her family and pledged to provide her with the best care possible.

Several health officials were suspended following an investigation into the case.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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