Little KhadijahAraf died from septic shock A brave dad is posting his final photo with his daughter on electronic billboards around Birmingham. KhadijahAraf was born with a complex heart condition and died of septic shock in May – just before her third birthday.
Her dad Sunny, from Erdington, has arranged for their last photo together to be beamed onto billboards on Monday, October 15 to say thank you to Birmingham Children’s Hospital. He wants to try to make October 15 a National Thank You Day where people celebrate the wonderful work done by the NHS. Here Sunny, a former policeman who runs a security and logistics firm, describes in his own words what happened to his little girl and why he’s been on a mission to help others ever since she was born …
“Khadijah was a ‘Daddy’s girl’ – and a tomboy due to having three older brothers.
She was our everything. Scans had shown she had a hole in her heart before she was born so she was rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital as soon as she arrived. She had her first open heart surgery at just a couple of months old. She would go onto have five more surgeries, including another open heart surgery that lasts 11 hours. We practically lived at the hospital for three or four months at a time when we’d come home and Khadijah would develop another condition and we’d go back. But the hospital staff were amazing, everyone from the cleaners and caterers to nurses, doctors and surgeons. Khadijah’s last day In May, we went for a lovely day out at Cannon Hill Park and Khadijah didn’t seem well when they got home. We took her to the hospital and the staff thought it was a virus and sent her home. By the next day, my wife Nida was convinced something was seriously wrong and said we needed to take her back to a hospital.
As I was putting her in her car seat, I saw her skin was peeling off her hands and legs.
It was blistering as she had been in a fire. By the time we got to the hospital, it had spread all over her body. The doctors rushed her straight into the theatre and started pumping her with fluids and antibiotics. There was so much activity and we just sat in the parent’s room, waiting. When they came to see us they said her heart had stopped but they had managed to bring her back. However, they didn’t think she would make it. That’s when we started phoning family to come. As we went down to intensive care, we could see the emergency lights going off and we just knew it was coming from her bed. We saw them trying to resuscitate her but they were unable to. We were there with her at the end. Khadijah eventually lost her fight not to her heart condition but to septic shock – the fact that she was so young and had a heart condition meant she could not fight the infection. Khadijah’s legacy I now want to help other children like Khadijah. Thousands of children all over the world are born with a heart condition and many will die due to not being able to afford the medical care needed. Whilst Khadijah was ill, Nida and I started the ISA Foundation so we could help other families going through hard times. We run a food bank at our offices and send money to help girls at a refuge in Pakistan. I have since become an ambassador for the Little Hearts Project, working on the Muntada Aid project which offers free surgery to children with congenital heart defects – the same condition my daughter had. I have recently travelled to Egypt with a team of surgeons who conducted over 70 operations and saved many lives.
Why Sunny is screening his final photo with Khadijah on billboards
For three years Birmingham Children’s Hospital became our home – I could never thank them enough for what they did for us and I want to raise awareness of the amazing work they do. So, on Monday, October 15, this poster is being screened on five electronic billboards around Bullring and Grand Central. I am going to stand next to the billboards and talk to people about what happened to me and how they can help others. I want to inspire people who have lost a loved one, to show them that life does go on if they can channel their energy into good by helping people. It just helps with the healing process. We are so blessed to live in a country that enables us to access these services, there are so many parents across the world who cannot get help for their children. I want to make October 15 National Thank You Day with events happening every year to raise awareness and funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the NHS. Hopefully, it will become a big national day but if it just stays local, that’s OK too.
It’s been really difficult for our sons (aged eight, five and three) but we’re lucky to have such an amazingly supportive family.
The boys know their sister is in heaven. Even our youngest points to the sky and says up when we talk about her.
My eldest climbed Snowdon to raise money for the children’s hospital when he was just six, that’s the kind of boys they are.
Khadijah was a little busybody, very talkative and lively.
She loved babies, always wanted to be mum when she was playing.
And she was very strong and resilient because she went through so much.
She had a fighting spirit few adults have.”
• Sunny is raising money for Little Hearts in memory of Khadijah. Donate to his page here