SHARJAH // A toddler who suffered serious head injuries when hit by a fairground ride will be flown to London for treatment today after the Sharjah Ruler's Court intervened.
Khalifa Al Zayoudi, a month short of his third birthday, will be taken to The Portland Hospital, a specialist children's hospital, after the Ruler's Court provided finance and assistance.
Khalifa has been in the intensive-care unit of Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah since being hit on the head by the Crazy Fire ride at the Sharjah Water Festival in Al Majaz Park in December.
His family said the assistance from the Ruler's Court gave them hope.
"We are not sure exactly what will happen but we hope that it will be beneficial for Khalifa," said his mother, who asked to be referred to as Umm Khalifa.
The boy suffered severe head injuries and a brain haemorrhage, which required emergency surgery.
"His condition has stabilised and he moves the tips of his fingers and toes and his eyes, but apart from that there is nothing happening," said his mother.
The family was visiting the festival on a day out from their home in Kalba when tragedy struck.
"We had just watched a puppet show and the children wanted to attend the circus, so we went to the rides to wait," recalled Khalifa's father, Obeid Al Zayoudi. "Everything happened in less than a minute."
Khalifa, the youngest of five children, rushed towards the ride, followed closely by his older brother.
"I thought he would stop at the fence and watch," said his mother. She said the fence around the ride was open, allowing Khalifa to enter.
The ride has rows of seats that travel around in a circle like a merry-go-round but also go up and down.
"I saw Khalifa inside and I screamed ... seconds later he was lying on the ground with blood all over him," said Umm Khalifa.
"My feeling at that moment cannot be described. I hope that no one will have to experience anything similar."
She is calling for stricter controls for fairgrounds.
The accident completely changed the family's life.
Khalifa's parents have left their home in Kalba for a hotel room in Sharjah where they can be closer to the hospital. Their four other children are being cared for by their grandmother.
"The children have been quiet since the accident," said Umm Khalifa.
"They no longer play and in the first month they did not even watch TV and hardly talked. They only ask about how their younger brother is doing.
"Their education has also been affected. The teacher of his six-year-old brother says he is always absent-minded and quiet in class."
Before the accident Khalifa was an active child who would often play with his older siblings.
"He was very lively and a troublemaker," his mother said.
"He always used to tease his brothers, and they used to play with him and take care of him as he was the youngest."
His parents do not know how long Khalifa will need to stay in London, but are praying for his recovery. His mother has a picture of the boy as the screen saver on her mobile.
"I hope that everything will be good, inshallah," said Umm Khalifa, looking at the picture of her son's smiling face.