x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Boy fights for his life after sister dies from suspected food poisoning

Doctors in Sharjah believe symptoms may have been the result of food poisoning from snacks Habiba Hisham, 2, and her brother Abdul Rahman, 6, ate on Friday.

SHARJAH // A two-year-old girl died and her brother, 6, is in critical condition after suffering from symptoms consistent with food poisoning.

Habiba Hisham and her brother Abdul Rahman were admitted to Al Qassimi Hospital at 4am on Sunday with vomiting, dehydration and low blood pressure.

Abdul Rahman responded well to initial treatment and was moved from the hospital’s intensive care unit to the paediatric ward. Habiba, however, died six hours after being admitted.

Their father, Hisham Abdul Rahman Abdul Fattah, welled up as he said: “No words to describe her could ever be enough. She’s close to the heart. The doctors tried to save her, but it was God’s will. The only thing I can do now is pray that my son will get better.”

Doctors believe the Egyptian children may have suffered food poisoning from snacks the children ate on Friday.

“The family told us that the kids ate sweets, chocolates and chips bought from a local mall and that they were vomiting and feeling sick all of Saturday,” said Dr Khalid Khalfan Sabt, deputy technical director at the hospital.

Echocardiograms showed both children were suffering from weakened muscle contractions in the heart due to inflammation.

Habiba was immediately intubated and given inotropic support, which helps heart contractions and blood pressure. However, she did not respond to treatment and died of cardiac arrest at 10am on Sunday.

“Habiba was unable to handle the toll it took on her body because of her younger age,” Dr Sabt said.

Although Abdul Rahman improved at first, his condition worsened on Sunday night, and he was moved back to the hospital’s ICU.

He is now on a ventilator and inotropic support.

Doctors said he has septicaemia, a blood infection which leads to acute heart muscle inflammation and weakness.

“We’re now hoping that Abdul Rahman will clear the toxins from his body, but his state is still very critical,” Dr Sabt said.

The hospital is trying to determine if the infection is viral or bacterial and the Sharjah Municipality is conducting its own investigation.

Their father said the family had picked up snacks, including juice, crisps and sweets, from a Sharjah store on their way to Dubai on Friday. He also said they bought sweets from a stand at a mall.

“They played and enjoyed their time at the mall as usual,” Mr Abdul Fattah said. “There was no indication that they were sick.”

When the children woke up at around noon the next day, they began vomiting, the father said. The parents took them to a doctor at a nearby medical centre, who told them the children were suffering from food poisoning and gave them an injection to treat the symptoms.

However, the vomiting continued into the early morning hours of the following day, when the parents then admitted the children to Al Qassimi Hospital.

Although doctors attributed the symptoms to suspected food poisoning, Mr Abdul Fattah said he had other suspicions.

“The apartment door across from us was sealed with tape, so I have a feeling it may not be the snacks they ate but something people sprayed there,” he said.

mismail@thenational.ae