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Indian teen with rare disease told to leave UK

Indian-origin girl Zarine faces deportation after an immigration judge turns down her appeal to stay on for treatment, reports Vijay Dutt.
By Vijay Dutt | Hindustan Times, London
UPDATED ON FEB 13, 2008 03:48 AM IST

Indian-origin girl Zarine, 15, suffering from a rare genetic disease, faces deportation after an immigration judge disallowed her appeal to be allowed to stay on in London for treatment.

Zarine suffers from the bone marrow disease called the Fanconi-Bickel Syndrome (FBS), of which doctors say there are only 112 other cases in medical history.

The teenager has been undergoing treatment at the well-known Great Ormond Street Hospital that specialises in the treatment of children and was discharged just five days ago.

The judge said he did not let her stay in the UK because treatment for her disease was available in India as well.

A student of the South Camden Community School, Zarine, came here with her mother Tasmin as a visitor in 2004. She was later diagnosed with having FBS.

Dr Shiv Pande, MBE, and the only Asian doctor to

have been elected as Treasurer of the British General Medical Council told Hindustan Times that he did not agree that

India could provide equally good treatment. "It will be inhuman to send her back (to India). It is only here that Zarine can get the best possible treatment," he said.

Lord Meghnad Desai was quite upset. "Every parent wants the best treatment for their children. As Zarine is already undergoing treatment at Ormond, considered one of the best for children, I do not see any logic in her being sent away.

"In such an emergency and a complex case where is the time to search for the best hospital or doctor in India in a hurry?" Desai asked.

The MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott agreed: "It would

be crazy to send Zarine back

to India. She is a model student who can thrive physically

and emotionally in this country. In India, her health is likely to deteriorate and she will not have access to educational facilities adjusted to her needs."

Abbott said he would table an 'early day motion' in the House of Commons, urging the Home Secretary "as a matter of urgency" to allow her to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds.

Many doctors, local lawmakers, teachers and others have been supporting a campaign to allow her to stay in the UK. Over 2,000 people have also signed a petition organised by the Rentia Family Anti-Deportation Campaign Group, urging the Home Office to allow her to stay in the UK.

Many NRIs said they would happily contribute for her treatment. Desai said this was an apt case for appeal and must be filed.

Supporters are hoping she will not meet the fate of Ama Sumani, a terminally-ill Ghanaian woman who was removed from her sick bed in a Cardiff hospital by immigration officials and put on a plane back to her country.

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