x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Grieving parents thank UAE for support after daughter poisoning death

The parents whose toddler died and young son became ill from suspected pesticide poisoning have expressed their gratitude to the community for its support.

Habiba Hisham, left, died from suspected pesticide, while her older brother Abdul Rahman is still in the hospital's paediatric intensive-care unit. Courtesy Abdul Fattah Family
Habiba Hisham, left, died from suspected pesticide, while her older brother Abdul Rahman is still in the hospital's paediatric intensive-care unit. Courtesy Abdul Fattah Family

SHARJAH // The parents whose toddler died and young son became ill from suspected pesticide poisoning have expressed their gratitude to the community for its support.

"A woman that I don't even know just visited me now and said that after hearing about the news she had to come see us personally," said Shimaa Sadek, the children's mother.

"We're getting personal messages on Facebook and Twitter. People want to let us know that we're not alone. The support is incredible."

Habiba Hisham, 2, and her brother, Abdul Rahman, 6, were admitted to Al Qassimi Hospital on Sunday morning with symptoms of poisoning.

Habiba died six hours later and Abdul Rahman is still in the hospital's paediatric intensive-care unit on ventilation and heart support.

Mrs Sadek said her family's decision to share their tragic experience with the public was a moral obligation.

"We want to raise awareness among people and the pest-control companies," she said. "I feel that God may have put this on us as a chance to prevent this from happening to other children."

Doctors initially thought food poisoning had caused the illness, but authorities now suspect chemical poisoning after capsules of aluminium phosphide were found in the flat across the hall from the Egyptian family's apartment.

A forensics team has taken blood samples from Abdul Rahman to confirm the cause of the illness.

Doctors say the boy is still in a critical condition.

"The toxins work by paralysing the cells in the body," said Dr Khalid Khalfan Sabt, deputy technical director at the hospital.

"What is usually affected are the cells in the heart and respiratory system and in some cases the liver and kidneys."

He said that in Abdul Rahman's case, the heart was worst affected.

But the parents said regardless of the test results, their son's health and survival mattered most.

"All we ask is for everyone's prayers - prayers that our son will make it through this," Mrs Sadek said.

mismail@thenational.ae